Barbara Vine - The Minotaur
“As it says on the cover, Barbara Vine is Ruth
Rendell letting rip - and this is certainly the case with
The story takes us back 35 years to the swinging sixties,
which hadn’t quite yet reached the outer reaches of
the Essex countryside. Julia Cosway, the matriarch, lives
at Lydstep Old Hall with her daughters, Ida, Winifred, Ella
and, sometimes, Zorah. Kirsten Kvist, has been given a post
as a carer in the huge house. She is brought in to look after
Julia’s son, John, who is supposedly schizophrenic.
As time goes by Kirsten is shocked by the amount of drugs
the family is pumping in to John and she begins to wonder
if he is as mad as his mother and sisters suggest.
Soon there is an announcement of a wedding and the arrival
of a colourful artist in the village. Both these men will
be the catalyst of the terrible things that eventually happen
at Lydstep Old Hall…
As it says on the cover, Barbara Vine is Ruth Rendell letting
rip - and this is certainly the case with The Minotaur!
Vine paints a wonderful picture of the sixties. A time when
there were no computers, mobile phones, faxes or e-mails.
There is only one telephone in the whole house and this is
watched over by the mother, Julia Cosway. Julia Cosway is
a particularly brilliant ‘monster’! Nobody is
spared her vitriolic tongue. The family begrudgingly rely
heavily on the youngest daughter, Zorah for any finance or
expensive treats. Zorah in turn, treats them all with deep
contempt. The other three daughters live with their mother,
and none of them seems likely to marry. It is with the announcement
of an engagement and the arrival of a colourful artist that
events start spiralling out of control and the family begins
to destroy itself with petty jealousies and one-upmanship.
The reader is transported back to the sixties and feels the
frustration that grows in Kirstin as she is gradually ground
down by the vile Cosway family. It seems that the only reason
she stays is to protect or, at least, keep an eye on John.
This motley cast of characters really makes you keep turning
those pages! This is a brilliant book that shows that Vine
is again, top of her craft with plenty of power in her writing.
Reviewed by C.S.
Harlan Coben - The Innocent
“Absolutely vintage Harlan Coben – great
Matt Hunter’s life is slowly getting back on
track after spending four years in jail after being found
guilty of accidentally killing someone in a teenage brawl.
Since being released from jail, Matt has found work and also
met the woman of his dreams. However, his new life starts
to unravel on the day he gets a new mobile phone with a camera.
A picture of a man he doesn’t know is sent to him, along
with a video message of his wife.
He needs to find out what his wife is doing, and is she really
the person he thought she was. Why is this happening to him
- and who can he trust?
Catherine and Bobby are brought together, both needing each
other's help, but neither sure who they can trust. A killer
is out there, and no one is above suspicion.
This is a typically brilliant offering from Harlan Coben,
with the story-line gripping you from the first line.
Matt has married Olivia and they are moving to a new family
home after recently finding out they are expecting their first
child. However, all his dreams come crashing down when he
receives first a photo on his camera phone, then a video message
of his wife.
Who has sent this video? All clues lead to Reno and Vegas,
which is where the story culminates and Matt finds all the
answers he has been looking for. The question is; does he
want to know?
This is another excellent thriller that you will be unable
to put down. Highly recommended. Absolutely vintage Harlan
Coben – great stuff!
Reviewed by H.A.
Ken Follett - Whiteout
“This book has the stamp of a master storyteller
having fun writing a roller coaster of a novel.”
Stanley Oxonford’s family always congregates
at his remote farmhouse over the Christmas period. Stanley
owns a pharmaceutical research company, which has been developing
a vaccine against a deadly virus.
Stanley’s head of security, Toni Gallo, has her work
cut out for her on Christmas Eve. What should have been a
quiet evening turns out to be anything but…!
The story bounces along at a cracking pace! This is a real
page-turner. The fact that the story is played out in time
increments, not chapters, keeps you thinking; “I’ll
read just a few more pages’. Next thing you know it
is a hundred pages later and 3 a.m.!
This book has the stamp of a master storyteller having fun
writing a roller coaster of a novel. It has all the right
ingredients. Danger, adventure, romance, betrayal and some
of the nastiest monsters you will ever meet – or hope
to meet. I recommend you buy, borrow or steal this book and
promise you will not be able to put it down until after you
have gone through the whole 48 hours with Toni Gallo!
Reviewed by C.S.
Francesca Weisman - Nowhere’s Child.
“The plot was totally gripping - very easy to get
into and it really held my interest.”
In 1980, a young model/singer is found brutally murdered
in a deserted London street. Detective Smallbone is called
in and soon discovers that nobody really knew anything about
the young celebrity who had recently been splashed all over
the newspapers and magazines. He is no nearer the truth when
a turn of events brings the case to a sudden conclusion.
Over twenty years later, the case comes back to haunt Smallbone
in the guise of an autistic man called Kit. Who is he? What
does he have to do with that old case from 1980? Then another
murder occurs and it seems that someone is also targeting
Smallbone. Soon the truth will have to come out.
The story encompasses a time-span from the mid seventies
to 2001. The first half of the book revolves around Detective
Smallbone who is handling the murdered model case and a group
of children who live in a care home called Hollybush House.
It is from here that their history is shown and the pieces
begin to connect together.
I really enjoyed this book. I had it finished in three days,
which for a slow reader like me, is very good going! The plot
was totally gripping - very easy to get into and it really
held my interest. Throughout the novel various different scenarios
are given so you keep wondering what the solution could be…
but (as in all the best Crime novels) it isn’t until
near the very end that everything is explained.
Reviewed by C.S.
Michael Ridpath - On the Edge
“This is fast paced story with plenty of intrigue
to keep you guessing till the end!”
After a flying accident as an RAF fighter pilot,
Alex Calder looks for a career that allows him to still have
the excitement and thrill of taking big risks and builds a
successful career as a Bond Trader in London.
Alex soon wants to review his choice of career after seeing
a different side of his industry following the suicide of
a colleague, Jennifer Tan. Jennifer had chosen to pursue a
case of sexual harassment against her bosses and her untimely
death is a mystery.
Twelve months later Alex has put this behind him and opened
a flying school. However, the past comes back to haunt him
when a former colleague disappears after an accident that
occurs whilst visiting a client of Bloomfield Weiss, the company
he used to work for.
Unable to help Jennifer, he vows to see that justice is done
this time, even if it means risking everything he has…
including his life!
The story takes the reader from the fast paced life of a
jet pilot, to the heady heights of a successful bond trader
Alex Calder is the man who has it all. A good job that he
loves and plenty of money to enjoy his life.
However, he soon realises neither money or his career are
important when he is forced to face the way his colleague
is treated after she puts forward a case of sexual harassment
against her boss, and seemingly unable to cope with this stress,
she commits suicide.
This is fast paced story with plenty of intrigue to keep
you guessing till the end!
Reviewed by H.A.
Catherine Sampson - Falling Off Air
“A very good start to what will, I’m sure,
be a very entertaining series.”
Robin is an exhausted mother with twins. One night,
when looking out of her window, she witnesses her celebrity
neighbour fall to her death. With another death closer to
home, the police soon begin to see Robin as a suspect. Robin
begins a desperate race to find the real murderer who has
killed to keep an even worse nightmare from being revealed.
Catherine Sampson has created a very loveable woman in Robin
Ballantyne. She was once a high-flyer in the Television industry
who, unexpectedly having borne twins from a doomed relationship,
is now trying to get her feet back on to the bottom rung of
TV. It looks as though Robin will get a job back at her old
company, although she will be greatly sidelined. This all
blows up in her face when she witnesses the demise of her
neighbour, a very well known MP. After another murder even
closer to home makes Robin a virtual pariah, she starts digging
to prove her innocence. The clues lead her to an even more
terrible hidden truth and Robin finds out that close friends
were not all she thought they were.
I greatly enjoyed this book and found the plot believable
and the characters incredibly vivid. This debut novel is a
very good start to what will, I’m sure, be a very entertaining
Macmillan will publish the follow-up novel, Out of Mind,
in August 2005.
Reviewed by C.S.