Keep Your Friends Close
Grove Press, September 2014
This novel from Paula Daly (whose last book, Just What Kind of Mother Are You I absolutely loved!) brings back D.C. Joanne Aspinall of the CID. The protagonist who crosses paths with Aspinall is Natasha (“Natty”) Wainwright, who with her husband, Sean, run a successful hotel in Windermere in England’s Lake District, and has an enviable life with him and their two daughters, 16 and 14 years old, when their younger daughter becomes ill while on a school trip, and Eve must fly off to southern Normandy where the girl must have an appendectomy. As fate would have it, Eve Dalladay, Natty’s best friend from college, has just come on a visit from the States and offers to stay at the house until Natty can return home.
As things transpire, it would appear that Eve is not who she seems, by any definition, and is a more devious woman than anyone could have guessed. The plot twists follow closely upon one another, but suffice it to say that Natty comes to the attention of the police, and D.C. Aspinall, when she rams her Porsche into the back of a Maserati where Eve is sitting in the driver’s seat. And it is no accident.
Sean and Natty met at a sixteenth-birthday party when they were in school, deciding upon graduation that he would study law, and she would study biology. After sixteen years of marriage, things did not work as they had hoped or planned. But this turn of events is something far, far different. The suspense mounts, and lives are altered, literally and figuratively. The question arises, “Would you ever kill another person out of jealousy or hatred?”
The author has written another gripping novel, one that is recommended.
Reviewed by Gloria Feit, March 2015.
Blue Rider Press, July 2014
This is the third entry in the series featuring Detective Sergeant Aector McAvoy, and is every bit as terrific as the first two. McAvoy is with the Yorkshire Serious and Organized Crime Unit, in the small English city of Hull, still working on a series of crimes committed by a vicious group seeking to take over the drug trade previously run by Vietnamese, something they had not been able to do in Original Skin, the predecessor novel. England has been going through a prolonged and oppressive hot spell, although the sky holds promise of a saturating rain storm at any moment.
The Scottish McAvoy, described as “a humble, shy giant of a man” at 6’ 5”, passionately in love with his much younger Romany wife, his young son and baby daughter and preparing to move into their new home, has been directed to attend sessions with a police-approved counselor because of perceived emotional problems. In a separate plot line, McAvoy is assigned the investigation into two killings which take place within 24 hours. McAvoy is second-guessing himself, and his career choice: “He has done this too many times. Sat in too many rooms with too much grief; felt too many eyes upon him as he made his promises to the dead . . . insists that he does his job as a police officer before he allows himself to become a human being.” Despite being written mostly with a light touch, the murders are quite sadistic, and it is speculated that a serial, probably deranged, killer is on the loose. The only connection between the victims seems to relate to events almost 15 years in the past, an even more horrific series of crimes perpetrated by a man who was incarcerated but sentenced to treatment in a psychiatric facility, and is now mostly incapacitated by a stroke.
The supporting cast of characters/police colleagues is very well-drawn, as usual: D.S. Trish Pharoah (with “four kids and a crippled husband” and a drinking problem, DIs Helen Tremberg and Shaz Archer et al, and McAvoy’s wife, Roisin. The novel is wonderfully well written, and gradually the suspense mounts until, with less than a hundred pages to go, I became actually fearful of reading further, not wanting to find out what is about to happen next, as I nonetheless started turning pages more and more quickly. The only certain thing about the plot is that one must expect the unexpected.
Reviewed by Gloria Feit, January 2015.