Tag Archives: Barclay

Linwood Barclay – Too Close to Home

Too Close to HomeAfter reading Linwood Barclay’s first novel No Time For Goodbye
I was in eager anticipation of another offering from this author. I didn’t actually realise it was out in paperback though until the lovely Savidge Reads handed me a copy that he’d picked up specially for me. Book friends are the best.

So what’s the plot?

The Cutter family’s world is turned upside-down when their next door neighbours are gunned down. While shaken by the horrible news, they console themselves that surely it won’t happen again, after all lighting doesn’t strike twice, right? But what happens if the killers went to the wrong house? Once the investigation starts, we start to realise that the members of the Cutter family are in fact harbouring their own secrets. Secrets that could mean the difference between life and death.

My thoughts

Like his previous novel, Too Close to Home is a definite page turner. Event’s are mostly told through the eyes of Jim Cutter, the father of the family and so you experience the fears and drama right along with him. I was gripped right from the start, and with the exception of a slightly slow bit in the middle the novel held my attention all the way through. One issue for me was that I figured out the killer say about 3/4 of the way through. I couldn’t be sure, but the author drops pretty big hints throughout the novel. However to an extent I like to be able to figure it out a bit… makes me feel quite proud of myself!

The voice of the main character Jim, is sort of uber masculine. He’s a hard-working labourer who cuts grass for a living after his dreams of being an artist and a job ferrying the mayor around didn’t quite work out. His impulsive behaviour is often the driving force behind action in the novel so he is key. I found that I didn’t quite empathise so much with Jim as I did with the main male character in No Time for Goodbye because he’s perhaps more of the straightforward american cowboy type (that was my interpretation anyway). Also I found it a bit odd as the first chapter of the book is from his son’s point of view and then the voice changes to Jim’s for the rest of the book. A good technique if it was to be used to switch between characters consistently but perhaps odd that you don’t get Ellen’s (the mother) perspective.

One thing that I really enjoyed was the suspense behind the character’s secrets. You’re tempted with these all the way through and left to wonder why certain characters are behaving so oddly until these are revealed. Also although I can’t say I really related to any of them, but I did like the fact that they were depicted as fallible and therefore very human.

The only critical points really come from comparing this novel to No Time For Goodbye. If you haven’t read Linwood Barclay I would say that should be your first port of call as it is really a superb thriller that keeps you guessing right until the end (Plus it’s only £4.99 on Amazon right now so it’s a good one to get if you’ve got a summer holiday coming up!). Overall though, Too Close to Home was gripping, with plenty of drama and was brilliantly entertaining for my commute home!!

Sophie Hannah’s Hurting Distance: Obsession, Betrayal and a Gripping Plot

Hurting DistanceSophie Hannah’s psychological thrillers (published by Hodder & Stoughton) featuring Simon Waterhouse and Charlie Zailer are far and away my favourite novels in this genre at the moment. I actually got interested in this author after reading her book of short stories
, which appealed to my own very nosy nature and then her first thriller, Little Face (2006) got me hooked, from the minute I read the blurb on the back. Then I couldn’t wait to read The Point of Rescue (2007) and Hurting Distance (2008) as well, albeit in the wrong order!

The storyline in Hurting Distance centres around Naomi Jenkins, a self employed sundial maker. Just as with the other books it is set around the fictional and utterly English-sounding towns of Rawndesley and Spilling. Naomi has a dark secret from her past, a terrifying ordeal that has affected her ever since. An (unsurprisingly) brittle character who doesn’t shirk at confrontation she becomes involved with the police after her lover Robert goes missing. Although Robert has vanished, his wife insists that he is not missing and in desperation Naomi decides to convince the police that he is dangerous so that they will have to look for him.

This book also picks up the thread of the complicated relationship between Sergeant Zailer and Detective Waterhouse. Both characters are at times likeable and annoying (which makes them very human) and add an interesting link between the novels.

The plot of this book is particularly dark and Hannah’s technique of writing from inside the protagonists head in some chapters is a great way of getting the reader involved and also in exploring the psychology of the character. I was totally gripped as the plot unravelled, and liked the fact that you can plausibly make guesses as to the culprit is in this but you are on tenterhooks to find out the full story.

I like the fact that Hannah has brought out a new book each year for the last 4 years and am looking forward to getting my hands on her latest – The Other Half Lives (2009) currently available from Amazon in hardback, although I’ll be waiting for the paperback.

Also, having just looked at Sophie Hannah’s website, I was delighted to read that her crime novels are being adapted for television at the moment. So I will be looking forward to those with anticipation!