Nightmare

by Stephen Leather (Hodder & Stoughton) ISBN: 9781444700718


What an interesting book. Jack Nightingale, a private detective, is a haunted man. Once upon a time he was a police negotiator who couldn't stop a nine-year-old girl named Sophie jumping to her death after she was abused by her father. Her mother knew about the abuse but did nothing. Now Jack thinks she's trying to contact him from beyond the grave. 

Jack tries to find the truth with his personal assistant, Jenny McLean. He has to battle his former boss, Detective Superintendent Chalmers, and the forces of evil. This is a well-researched paranormal thriller. Stephen Leather produces excellent pacing, brilliant, believable characters, solid plotting, and a great ending. Nightmare is the sequel toNightfall and Midnight, books one and two in a taut thrilling trilogy. 

Thank you, Stephen Leather, for sending me a copy! I wish I'd read it sooner. It would have been one of my top reads of 2012. 

Amanda Patterson
www.writerswrite.co.za
4.5/5

Writers Write offers the best writing courses in South Africa. Writers Write - Write to communicate.

The Impossible Dead

by Ian Rankin (Orion) ISBN: 9780752889542


I am a dedicated Ian Rankin fan. In the past some may have called me a groupie. Anyway… Rankin is a master of the craft of crime fiction writing. He understands how to create detectives and criminals. He knows how to make settings come alive and become characters in his novels. 

Malcolm Fox, Rankin's new protagonist, is divorced, in his 40s, and he's quieter than Rebus. He doesn't drink alcohol; he enjoys Appletiser. He's objective, and he’s a gentleman. He works for 'The Complaints' aka The Internal Affairs department that looks for 'dirty and compromised cops'. 

Fox and his colleagues, Kaye and Naysmith, arrive in Fife to investigate a station-house where everyone seems to have been compromised. But Fox finds too many links to the suicide of a politician, and he's determined to find out the truth. Forget about Rebus and enjoy this new series. I did. This second book in the series is even better than the first, The Complaints. 

Amanda Patterson
4/5

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Book Review - Lost At Sea: The Jon Ronson Mysteries

by Jon Ronson (Picador) ISBN: 9781447223900


I am a Jon Ronson fan. I am as fascinated by strangeness as he is. In Lost At Sea, Ronson explores the things people are willing to believe. And we are willing to believe a lot. 

Ronson, like Malcolm Gladwell, has perfected the art of entertaining non-fiction writing. Gladwell is more serious and leaves you with lots of ‘aha’ moments. Ronson, an investigative journalist, is satirical, but non-judgmental, and at times almost childlike in his observations. 

Ronson finds the oddest, most outrageous true stories and manages to tell them in a compelling way. The book is an easy-to-read collection of stories. From Indigo ChildrenInterviews with RobotsThe Man who tried to Split the Atom in his KitchenPhoning a Friend, to Alpha Courses at church, you will be entertained, alarmed, and sometimes rendered speechless. 

Ronson is a relentless observer of the human condition. I would recommend Lost At Sea for anyone. I loved it. 

Amanda Patterson
www.writerswrite.co.za 
5/5

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Writers Write offers the best writing courses in South Africa. Writers Write - Write to communicate.

Book Review - The Fault in Our Stars

by John Green (Penguin) ISBN: 9780141345635 


Once upon a time there was a boy who loved a girl and he decided to spend the rest of his life finding the ending to her favourite story. 

Gorgeous Augustus Waters meets Hazel Grace Lancaster and they fall in love. Gus discovers that Hazel’s favourite book was written with a cliff-hanger ending. He decides to track down the book’s elusive author, Peter Van Houten, to answer Hazel’s questions. 

Hazel is 17 and has terminal cancer. Gus is 17 and is a cancer survivor – perfect except for his prosthetic leg. Gus decides to use his ‘cancer wish’ to take Hazel to Holland to find Peter. Hazel’s condition worsens but, with the help of their parents, and the ‘genies’ who grant the wishes, they board the plane. 

This beautiful, aching story is full of humour, despair, and joy. The unflinching pain pounces off the page and breaks your heart. John Green is a master storyteller. I read the book in three hours, and it takes a genius who has worked hard to layer a book with so much and still make it so readable. 

Reading The Fault in Our Stars is like watching a slow motion car crash. Only, it’s your loved ones in the car, and you can’t and won’t look away. 

Definitely my favourite book of 2012. 

Amanda Patterson
www.writerswrite.co.za 
5/5

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Writers Write offers the best writing courses in South Africa. Writers Write - Write to communicate.

The Shadow Girls

by Henning Mankell (Harvill Secker) ISBN 9781846556722 R215, 00 


Mankell is well-known for his crime novels featuring Detective Kurt Wallender.  The Shadow Girls was first published as Tea-Bag in Swedish in 2001. It has just been released in English as The Shadow Girls. I was expecting a crime novel. I was expecting a good read. I was expecting a plot. I didn't get it. 

The Shadow Girls is a nothing kind of a book. Apart from the three refugees whose story is woven in short pieces through the novel, there are no likeable characters. Jesper Humlin, the protagonist, is an unsuccessful poet. He is afraid of his angry girlfriend, his bitter mother, and his strident doctor. He is whiny, evasive, and fearful in his interactions with his manipulative publisher and his competitive friends. 

His publisher wants him to write a crime novel. He encounters the refugees. Somehow this is supposed to fit together but it doesn't. The novel ends abruptly and I realised I had just wasted my precious time. 

Amanda Patterson
1/5 

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The Edge Of Nowhere

by Elizabeth George (Hodder & Stoughton) ISBN: 9781444780750 

Elizabeth George is trying too hard to become a young adult author. The author who won me over with her Inspector Lynley series, has suddenly decided to try her hand at a paranormal mystery and romance. Versatile authors like James Patterson have done this successfully. Elizabeth George has not. Her writing is too stylised for young adult fiction. Her painful attention to detail does not work here.  The 496-page novel (in hardcover) is far too long.

Becca King arrives on Whidbey Island, near Seattle. She is fleeing from her crazy step-father. Becca can ‘hear’ other people’s thoughts and she has heard too many of Jeff Corrie’s. Her mother contacts a friend on the island who will look after Becca. Unfortunately, she learns her ‘Aunt’ Carol has passed away, when she arrives. Alone, she moves into a motel called The Cliff, where she discovers that the island hides many more secrets than she could have imagined. 

I don’t recommend this book. 

Amanda Patterson
www.writerswrite.co.za 
1/5

Writers Write offers the best writing courses in South Africa. Writers Write - Write to communicate.

The Vanishing Point

by Val McDermid (Little, Brown) ISBN: 9781408703212 


I have read most of Val McDermid’s novels. I am a fan. Sadly, I am not a fan of her latest book. The Vanishing Point doesn’t know what kind of novel it is. Stephanie Harker’s son, Jimmy is snatched at O’Hare airport. Everything is going according to the blurb on the book. Another McDermid thriller begins. Or so I thought. 

Then we are thrust into a long-winded narrative of Jimmy’s history. Steph, as she is known, is a ghost-writer. She tells the FBI the story of Jimmy, and his real mother, Scarlett, a reality TV star, and how she, Steph, became Jimmy’s mother. This insulted my intelligence. What mother would calmly narrate the story over an extended period instead of becoming hysterical? What FBI agent would listen to it?

I was lulled into the plot by the always excellent writing talents of the author. I thought she must have a reason for telling the story this way. I became acquainted with Joshu, Jimmy’s father; Pete, Steph’s stalker ex-boyfriend; Detective Sergeant Nick Nicolaides, Steph’s new love interest; Maggie, Steph’s agent; and Simon, Leanne and Marina, all part of Scarlett’s entourage. And then I was confronted with a b-grade ‘surprise’ ending. What a waste of good writing. 

Amanda Patterson
www.writerswrite.co.za 
2.5/5

Writers Write offers the best writing courses in South Africa. Writers Write - Write to communicate.

Live By Night

by Dennis Lehane (Little, Brown) ISBN: 9781408703168


Dennis Lehane could write about a snail race and make it sound thrilling. He doesn’t though. The author of Shutter IslandMystic River, and A Drink Before the War is back. 

Joe Coughlin meets icy beauty, Emma Gould, when he is 19. He is a small time gangster and she is Albert White’s mistress. Joe knows he shouldn’t but he falls in love with her. They start an affair. It’s 1926 and prohibition is in full swing. Coughlin hates his father, Thomas, who is the Deputy Superintendent of the Boston Police Department. Everything he does is an act of rebellion.  A robbery goes terribly wrong. His friend dies, they say Emma is dead, and policemen have been killed. 

Joe ends up in prison where he survives when Mafia Boss, Maso Pescatore, makes use of his talents, and his father’s connections. Joe is eventually released, and moves to Florida to set up shop for Maso. He makes a new life, meets the beautiful Graciela, builds a small empire, and ends up in Cuba. 

The novel is peppered with pain, and bolstered with beauty. It is empty of clichés and full of storytelling. Lehane remains in a class of his own. 

www.writerswrite.co.za 
4.5/5

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Before I Met You

by Lisa Jewell (Century) ISBN 9781846059230 R170 

Lisa Jewell has a gift. She writes beautifully.  

After her grandmother dies, Betty Dean leaves Guernsey for London to find Clara Pickle, the mysterious beneficiary in Arlette’s will. The novel flips between Arlette’s youth in 1920s bohemian London and Betty Dean’s adventures in Soho in the 1990s. Arlette, a stunning beauty, followed her heart, found a job, found a great love, and lost it all. She returned to Guernsey, settled down, married and never told anyone she had even lived in London. 

Betty also follows her heart, finds a job, stays in a dingy apartment, and is wooed by the wrong sort of man. She is determined to find Clara, and her grandmother’s story unfolds as she pieces together the clues. Betty, who adored her grandmother, finds out how strong her grandmother was, and how important love is. Effortlessly written, and easy-to-read, Before I met you is a guaranteed good summer read. 

Amanda Patterson
www.writerswrite.co.za 
3.5/5

Writers Write offers the best writing courses in South Africa. Writers Write - Write to communicate.

Criminal

by Karin Slaughter (Century) ISBN 9781846057977 R215, 00



Karin Slaughter is the novelist who takes readers where no other writers will go. I followed the Dr Sarah Linton novels - captivated, terrified, and sometimes simply brutally shocked. Slaughter doesn’t believe in rules and boundaries for her characters. She imagines the best and the worst things that can happen and she writes everything into the stories. 

In Criminal, Special Agent Will Trenton has to deal with his past. His father, a serial killer who tortured and killed his mother, has been paroled, and a girl has been murdered - a lot like the first girl he murdered 40 years earlier. Will is ordered off the case by his boss, Amanda Wagner, who worked the first case all those years ago. 

Will is in love with Dr Sarah Linton, but he’s still married to Angie, an ally from his days spent in foster care and children’s homes. Will Sarah be able to accept his past? Do they have a future? And can they withstand the trademark cliffhanger Slaughter ending? Although I enjoy Slaughter’s writing, I found alternating between the past and the present distracting and alienating in this novel. I think the scenes are also a little too long. There was too much information to process. I hope her next novel is more focused. 

Amanda Patterson
3/5

Writers Write offers the best writing courses in South Africa. To find out about Writers Write - How to write a book, or The Plain Language Programme - Writing courses for business, email news@writerswrite.co.za

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