Mini review: ‘The Art of Dying’ by Ambrose Parry

‘The Art of Dying’ is the second book by Ambrose Parry (the pseudonym for a writing duo) that follows Will Raven, now a fully fledged doctor, and his rather intense, dramatic and volatile day to day life! It’s never dull and, as in the first book, Will is battling with the darkness that keeps invading his life.

I enjoyed the first book ‘The Way of All Flesh’ so was really looking forward to reading this one, and there’re no disappointments. This is another detailed historical novel, set in 1850s Edinburgh, that draws in real advances and thoughts in medical procedures of the day and the use of chloroform on patients.
Since the events at the end of the first book, Will has been travelling, advancing his medical knowledge and training. Dramatic events lead to his return to Edinburgh and he’s back working with Dr Simpson, a character based on the real life Dr James Young Simpson; professor of Midwifery at Edinburgh University.

Will also yearns to see Sarah again, a woman he regrets leaving and he’s not at all content with his reasons for leaving her. However, their reunion is not the one he expected and there’re more ups and downs to come.
At the heart of this book is a serial killer, and their voice becomes part of the narrative as well. I was really engrossed in the psychology of this aspect. I loved that the villain of the story is also based on an actual 19th century mass-murderer. I loved the merging parts of the story-telling and the build up to a dramatic climax.
So, I devoured this book in one sitting; I couldn’t turn the pages quickly enough!

Loved the setting, the characters, the historical detail, the plotting of the crimes and the excitement of the ending. Better than the first book! Can’t wait for the next! I’ll definitely be buying myself a copy on publication day! This also works really well as a stand-alone too.

Many thanks to Netgalley and Canongate for this advanced e-copy to review

Mini review: ‘Bone China’ by Laura Purcell

A richly gothic narrative drives the plot of this creepy mystery novel by Laura Purcell, author of ‘The Silent Companions’ and ‘The Corset’.
The book’s narrative is split into two distinct time frames which centre around Morvoren House – an isolated and exposed property set close to the sea. Initially, the story begins with the plight of a woman, Miss Hester Why, who is hastily fleeing on a coach to Cornwall; the weather is extreme and the travel riddle with anxiety and discomfort. She’s instantly an intriguing character who has hidden secrets and who soon finds herself in another environment where all is not at ease; the wildness of the elements is a constant eerie threat and backdrop.
I love Purcell’s writing style and the language is rich, emotive and sensory. It’s also soon evident that Morvorven House is not the safe place she needs. There’s a group of contrasting characters from the kind to the bizarre. I love the underlying threat of insecurity and menace that quickly builds. I also loved how Hester was clearly a flawed character and enjoyed the slow reveal of her past and how she became the troubled young woman we meet.
The other main narrative comes from the past and it’s the story of a grieving medical doctor and his daughter, Louise Pinecroft. This was such a sorrowful story and I really enjoyed making connections to Hester’s situation in Morvoren House and the historical detail of the revolutionary medical trials with prisoners in the bleak Cornish caves.
With themes of alcoholism, isolation, the fairy-world, drug dependency and grief driving the storytelling, this is a rich and sensory historical read with its roots in sorrow, angst and torment. Just my cup of tea!

Huge thanks to Netgalley and Bloomsbury/Raven Books for the review copy.

REVIEW ‘Endgame’ by Daniel Cole

Loved this one!

I’ve read the first two books in the Ragdoll trilogy and enjoyed them both. It’s interesting how different all three books are in tone and direction; this final book is no exception. I would definitely advise not reading it as a stand-alone, the character arcs run the course of the books and lots of plot elements interconnect, despite the new central investigations in each book.

This book revolves around the apparent ‘suicide’ of a retired police officer. The narrative shifts between the past and the present leading up to the death and pulls in the central stain of corruption that soon becomes apparent. It’s then a race and a challenge to incriminate and bring the guilty to justice; this quest is headed by a determined ‘Wolf’.

I love the character of Detective William ‘Wolf’ Fawkes, he’s a monolithic wildcard of a detective and a brilliant creation by Cole. The great depth to Fawkes comes from his working and personal relationship with DCI Emily Baxter and in ‘Endgame’ it’s the heart of the story. I was really moved by their personal developments, and for one moment actually forgot this was a crime novel genre. Sigh. But no spoilers..:

We see the return of characters from the previous books, again no detail as I don’t want to spoil anything. But to say it’s a really satisfying read.

I thought the plotting was smart, and yes it’s far-fetched at times, but find me a thriller/crime read that’s not. As a reader I want drama and big thriller moments, so we have to push at reality to do this, but Cole never goes too far.

This book is also funny, Fawkes adds witty dialogue and there’s some nice comedy moments.

To use the common thriller descriptive, it’s twisty! Both nicely paced and plotted with style! I think it’s a great story concept and conclusion to the Ragdoll books, each one having its own personality and style ~ a highly recommended series!

Oh… and the epilogue left me with a huge grin.

July’s Reading Wrap Up ~ mini thoughts…

July turned out to be an unusually quiet reading month, but for good reasons. I’ve been spending more time with my daughter and we’ve been on a few trips. We arrived back from Canterbury yesterday after a three day mini break, which included a day at the Whitstable Oyster Festival ~ although neither of us liked oysters, but lots to do there, a food festival, bands, activities on the beach and lots more. The sun also shone for us, I think the only part of the country that wasn’t suffering from a deluge of rain.

So, July’s books:

‘The Puppet Show’ by M. W. Craven ~ thoroughly enjoyed this crime thriller. The two central characters Washington Poe and Tilly Bradshaw are fabulous! Can’t wait to read the next in the series. 4.5 stars.

‘Beasts of the Frozen Sun’ by Jill Crisswell is a richly written YA fantasy adventure 3.5 YA stars as it needed to develop, we went round in circles rather a lot but definitely worth a read if this genre is your thing.

‘American Dreams’ by Kenneth Bromberg is a debut novel and I loved it. ‘The Godfather’ in style and spans generations of immigrants entering New York. 4 stars. This one has its own blog post if you’d like to know more about it.

‘Bone China’ by Laura Purcell is another Victorian gothic descriptive delight, really enjoyed it! 4.5 stars. Read it!

‘The Boy’ by Tami Hoag is the long awaited follow up to ‘A Thin Dark Line’ featuring Cajun cop Nick Fourcade and Detective Annie Broussard. Not as good as book one, but nice to see Fourcade and Broussard again. 3.5 stars.

‘Endgame’ by Daniel Cole ~ the final book in the Ragdoll Trilogy. Loved it! 5 stars.

‘The Girl in the Grave’ by Helen Phifer ~ I struggled with this a bit, plot was good but the writing style jarred with me a bit, which stopped my reading flow. Hopefully this will be tided up in final editing. 3 stars.

Thanks for reading! Tell me if you have any book recommendations as always! 💕