Book Reviews – July 2020

Blood Orange – Harriet Tyce

Our main character, Alison has it all. She is a successful criminal law barrister with a loving husband and a beautiful daughter. However, within the opening pages of the novel, we learn that all is not what it seems. Alison has a serious drinking problem and a complete lack of self-control leading to both personal and professional disasters.

Alison has just been given her first murder case and is determined to show her full potential. Her client immediately wants to plead guilty to the brutal murder of her husband, but something just is not adding up. Although the novel follows this case throughout, the main feature of this book is the life of Alison herself.  Harriet Tyce does an extraordinary job of having us root for the main character even though she is a fundamentally unlikeable person. There are very few novels that can keep the reader so hooked whilst having such a strong dislike for its main character. Alison’s lover from work is even more detestable, but this doesn’t prevent the reader from continuing to turn the pages, desperate to find out what comes next.

The pace of this novel is incredible. Intertwining Allison’s personal life with the murder investigation, throwing us in the wrong direction at every possibility. The blending of the various intricate storylines worked very well. There are two great twists in the story, neither of which I saw coming. This book becomes extremely dark in places, especially towards the end. My only criticism is that the ending of the story did feel almost rushed and was very farfetched even in comparison to the rest of the novel. But this did not detract from the clever plot and well-developed characters. 4.5/5

The Flatshare – Beth O’Leary

Leon lives in a one-bedroom flat, works night shifts, and needs to earn some extra money quickly. Tiffy has just left a long term relationship and needs somewhere to live, somewhere cheap that she can move in immediately. So they develop a very unusual agreement where they will share not only a flat but a bed. Occupying the flat at different hours of the day; sharing a bed but never actually meeting. Tiffy’s friends think she’s crazy and Leon’s girlfriend is dubious, to say the least.

The two main characters are well rounded and loveable. Tiffy is the quirky leading lady and Leon the quiet type with an emotional family backstory. Tiffy’s relationship with her ex and the emotional abuse associated with that relationship is explored in an honest and frank way. The tone of this exploration sitting just right for this genre of book.

The pair communicate by leaving notes around the flat for each other. Their contrasting personalities immediately clear – Tiffy leaves long detailed messages whereas Leon’s are always short and snappy. In addition to the notes, leftover food is a great source of communication between the duo. Although there are serious undertones to the book, the main story is heart-warming and enjoyable.

This book is a sweet, funny, and very clever romantic comedy. Beth O’Leary has created something new and refreshing in a very over-saturated market. A great feel-good read for a vast audience. 4/5

The silent patient – Alex Michaelides

Alicia is an extremely talented painter who has been admitted to a psychiatric unit, ‘The Grove’. She has been charged with murdering her husband who returned from his job as a fashion photographer one evening. Since the death of her husband, she is yet to say a single word. Theo is a criminal psychotherapist with an obsession with Alicia’s story. When he saw a job position at ‘The Grove’ he jumped at the opportunity. Theo is successful in his application and is convinced he will be the one to make Alicia speak again.

The opening of the book completely hooked me. I was so intrigued to find out the truth behind Alicia’s story. Why hasn’t she spoken? Why did she kill her husband? But as the book progressed, I become more and more disengaged. The relationship between Theo and Alicia became so unbelievable and left me feeling a little ‘meh’.

I did however enjoy the twist at the end which somewhat helped redeem the book. I saw something coming but was definitely surprised by what I ultimately read. There was lots of hype around this book which the novel struggled to live up to. But, in my opinion, the second half of the book still did not match the intrigue of the first half. A decent book but not close to one of the best psychological thrillers I have read recently. 3/5

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