We were so young when it all happened. Just 13-years-old, making the most of the long, hot, lazy days of summer, thinking we had the world at our feet. That was us – me, Fat Bobby, Jim and Tara – the four members of the Outsiders’ Club.
The day we found a burnt-out car in the woods was the day everything changed. Cold, hard cash in the front seat and a body in the trunk… it started out as a mystery we were desperate to solve.
Then, the Collector arrived. He knew we had found his secret. And suddenly, our summer of innocence turned into the stuff of nightmares.
As a man’s recollections of a life-changing summer when he was thirteen, this story works. The authentic young teen fears, language and obsessions draw you into the mind of a thirteen-year-old. The naivety of the gang of ‘Outsiders’ is evidenced throughout the story as they encounter bullying, extreme racial and sexual prejudice and violence. Joey’s belief that his father can overcome anything is touching and in character but his actions in the face of the strange and dangerous people and events he encounters seem far more mature than his years.
The setting and characters are almost stereotypical, but again they fit with this genre of novel. So from a technical point of view, this story works, but I didn’t get invested with the characters, except in Joey’s connection with his dog Bandit which is vivid and genuine. The story’s pacing is good but everything is seen from a pre-teen point of view, and so the story didn’t enthral me. The target audience for this book is a more young adult than thriller reader, but as a debut, it is worth reading.
I received a copy of this book from Killer Reads Harper Collins via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
Catherine Carlisle is trapped in a loveless marriage, and the threat of World War Two is looming. She sees no way out… that is until a trusted friend asks her to switch her husband’s papers in a desperate bid to confuse the Germans.
Soon Catherine finds herself caught up in a deadly mixture of espionage and murder. Someone is selling secrets to the other side, and the evidence seems to point right at her.
Set in a fascinating historical period, where Nazi Germany’s nationalistic aims created unspeakable dark times for many. In stark contrast, the British establishment turned a blind eye to the interwar years’ atrocities, until powerful, forward-thinking people forced them to act. The Carlisle family is wealthy and influential, but the glossy exterior hides emotional cruelty, festering anger and secrets that would rock the society they live in.
Easy to read this is an absorbing novel, the historical detail gives depth to a simple plot, but I would have liked more, to let me feel what living at that time was like. The first chapter set in Germany is pivotal and underscored with menace. What follows is well written, but the danger Cat the heroine faces is narrated rather than demonstrated by the protagonist through actions and emotions. Espionage is a dangerous world, but I didn’t feel the threat, just knew that it existed.
The characters lack vibrancy. Much of Cat’s motivation is as a result of her crumbling marriage, and yet the reader knows little about her husband and the two rarely interact. Isobel and Cat’s relationship is toxic; you can feel the anger and envy. The other character interactions also need strong emotional depth to make them believable.
A good story but for me, it lacks authentic, believable characters.
I received a copy of this book from HQ Digital via NetGalley in return for an honest review.