Melody

HQ | 7 January 2021 | 352 pgs
Source: Library 

77-year-old Judith Potts is single and lives alone in a mansion inherited from her late aunt, Betty. Judith is happy with her life; after all she doesn't have to report to anyone and she can drink whisky anyhow or anytime she likes. She passes her time setting crosswords for the national newspapers and life doesn't get much better until one evening changes her life thereafter. 

On that fateful evening, she is out swimming in the Thames and she hears shouting from her neighbour's garden, followed by the sound of a gunshot. She then reports what she's heard to the police, hoping they'd send someone to investigate but they don't believe her and thought she might have heard wrongly. Afterall, Marlow has a low crime rate and it is not often they'd come across a serious crime, let alone a murder case. But Judith trusts her instincts and decides to investigate for herself. Her determination has paid off as she eventually finds her neighbour's body but the police thinks there's a possibility between the case of an accident and a suicide attempt. 

Judith didn't want to argue with the police and their disbelief has further fueled her determination in solving the case more. She is soon joined by the neighbourhood's dog walker, Suzie, and the prim and proper Vicar's wife, Becks. Together they formed "The Marlow Murder Club". What begins as a simple sleuthing soon becomes their "full-time job" as they realise they may be dealing with a serial killer when another body is found. Together with DS Tanika Malik (who's come to acknowledge their individual abilities eventually), they'll soon learn that some residents aren't who they seem to be and that one day the past would return to haunt no matter how one keeps it quietly. 

This book was a delight to read. Perhaps that's a wrong word to use considering this is a book about murders, but I loved the author's prose (serious yet humorous at times) and most of all, the various cast of characters that make this mystery so much intriguing through their dialogues and their characteristics. Judith was a remarkable character; she was a true hero (yes, she does wear a cape sometimes) and I liked it that she's feisty and opinionated and doesn't allow anything (or anyone) to bring her down. Her friendship with Suzie and Becks made me smile; and then there's DS Malik who brings in some conflicts to the story through her own issues and how she and the trio work together to crack the case. I also liked it that the mystery was multi-layered and like Judith's crossword puzzles, you need to think from various angles and other possibilities, too. As you can tell, I enjoyed this book and I'm glad to note that a sequel will be published in December 2021 (source).

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Melody
HarperCollins | 12 November 2020 | 400 pgs
Source: Library 
Catherine Cooper brings the readers to a ski resort set in the chilly La Madiere in which nature, motives and revenge all play a part in this psychological thriller.  

The year is 1998 and we're first introduced to two brothers, Will and Adam Cassiobury, as they bring their girlfriends for a ski holiday in La Madiere. The relationship between the two brothers are somewhat strained since they often seem to disagree and argue constantly. On the other end, Louisa (Will's girlfriend) struggles to fit into the group given the differences of social and class status. When Will and Adam decided to take a challenging ski route together along the French Alps on one occasion, they lost their way and out of ambitious pride, Adam figured they'd find their way out themselves while Will argued they should find and seek help from their guides. Cameron, the guide as well as the chalet owner, worries more about the sales and reputation so he didn't react quickly to the disappearance of the Cassiobury brothers until at a later stage; by then it's impossible to ignore given the severity of circumstances and sadly, only one brother is found. 

Twenty years later, two families visit the same place for a luxurious holiday. The husbands knew each other for their business connections and Cameron is still running the chalets like before. This group of acquaintance has reasons behind their holiday and most of all, they're linked to the missing brother. When a snowstorm strikes and they're stranded in the resorts, their worry and fear is further escalated when a body is found due to the avalanche, leading them the question if it's the body of the missing brother in 1998. As the story progresses and more plots reveal, the reader will soon learn that there's more to the missing brother case and that there's more than one in the group who knew about the incident twenty years ago. 

There's something about claustrophobic setting and unreliable narrators, isn't it? This may be a common trope in the suspense genre but yet it continues to hold its appeal and most of all, they never get old (at least in my opinion). The Chalet ticked most of the boxes under my suspense criterion although I've to say I liked none of the characters here. (well, maybe except for one but . . .) The story is split into two timelines with multiple narrators and both have well-balanced contents and fleshed out characters. I liked the chilling, atmospheric setting of La Madiere and this remains as my favourite throughout the book as it was quite well depicted (and I've learned a few things about skiing, too!) Overall it was a good read for a debut novel. 

(I Googled the author and stumbled upon this interview.)

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Melody

HQ | 28 May 2020 | 384 pgs
Source: Library 

His and Hers gives readers three sides of a story - a divorced couple's POVs and the mysterious killer surrounding a murder(s) investigation. 

Anna Andrews has finally gotten the job of her dreams as a newsreader at BBC after her predecessor, Cat Jones, has gone away for her maternity leave. Anna thought she'd get the job permanently through her good performance, but her hope is dashed once Cat decides to return and take back her place. Feeling bitter and dejected, Anna goes back to being a correspondent and her big break finally came when she's assigned to cover a murder in the woods at sleepy Blackdown.  

DCI Jack Harper is Anna's ex-husband and their relationship is torn apart from a tragedy involving their little girl years ago. Jack's life has been mundane until he finds himself entangled in a murder case. It turns out that the murdered victim is someone he knew intimately and it seemed he might be the last person who'd seen her alive. Although the investigation team finds a shoe print around the crime scene, they've yet to pinpoint the perpetrator. Jack and his rookie partner, Priya, are assigned to this case and he's surprised (though not so pleased) to see Anna again under this circumstances. To complicate matters, Anna knew the murdered victim, too. They were high school friends and their friendship was great at some point until Anna saw through her motives. Jack knew about their past friendship but Anna didn't know that Jack was seeing her.  

Through alternative POVs, the reader gets to learn about the thoughts and mindset of Jack and Anna. The killer's narrative was understandably vague for suspense reason, but it does add some doubts about the credibility between Jack and Anna. There're also flashbacks of the past featuring Anna's high school days and her friendship with a few girls; as well as all the bullying which would come back to haunt them all as Anna soon finds her ex-school friends turn up dead one by one. Will she be next? Or are there something more behind Anna's and Jack's mind? Then there's Priya, who is working so hard to please Jack yet she's not totally upfront with him at times. 

Overall, this twisty psychological thriller kept me on edge and the plot and suspense was quite well-paced and nicely executed. The "whodunit" took me by surprise but I didn't really buy the "howdunit" as it seemed a bit far-fetched to me. That said, this minor complaint didn't deter me from enjoying the book. 

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Melody

 

Crooked Lane Books | 13 April 2021 | 304 pgs
Source: NetGalley 


40-year-old June Bennett returns to her childhood home at Avril Island after receiving news of her older sister's death. May Bennett had visited the family's lawyer regarding the property left by their late mother but unfortunately she died in a fatal car accident on her way back. The two sisters had always believed that their mother had sold off Avril Island ever since their father's disappearance decades ago but now that May has gone, June has no choice but to return to the Island to search for some answers. 

June couldn't remember much of her childhood times in Avril lsland, but the residents do remember the Bennetts clearly. She later learns from the residents that they believe her father may be murdered instead of disappeared as what her mother had claimed. June didn't know what to think of this new revelation, but she did reacquaint with their caretaker's son, Ezra, and soon find herself attracted to him. As June continues to dig into the past, strange things start happening around Avril lsland. First, the unexplained noises in the night and shadowy figures disappearing into the woods. Then, missing family possessions showing up and doors locking on their own. What secrets do Avril Island hold that the residents are reluctant to talk about it? 

This story has a few elements that held my attention. The atmospheric Avril lsland, the secrets and deceptions, and then there's the bond/dynamics between the two sisters and most of all, the alternating POVs between June and May, who's dead and seemed to be hovering around June. May's narrative was vague but it isn't without reason as her voice adds part of the intrigue to this story. Despite a thriller, I felt the strength lies instead in the relationship between the two sisters (their childhood in particularly) and the family dynamics of the Bennett family. Avril Island was another draw as it was well described. My only complaint was I wished there was more developments between the sisters in their adulthood. While June was an interesting character, she's not really likeable in some ways and some of her actions really puzzled me, to say the least. Nevertheless, it was an engaging read and I'll be curious to see what the author has in store for her next book. 
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Melody

 

Doubleday | 30 June 2020 | 336 pgs
Source: Library
Kevin Kwan's phenomenal novel, Crazy Rich Asians, takes the readers to tropical Singapore and tells a love story through an array of local culture, the mindset and the behaviorism of the rich with a fun and dramatic prose. Sex and Vanity has a similar vibe as CRA in terms of the prose (minus the Singlish, of course) and is a homage to E.M. Forster's A Room with a View (I haven't read this so I couldn't compare). 

Lucie Tang Churchill, our heroine, is invited to a wedding reception in Capri, Italy, together with her family. Accompanied by her cousin, Charlotte, they're supposed to check into a hotel room that has a scenic sea view but are dismayed to find it's already been occupied by another two guests. Rosemary Zao gallantly offers to trade hotel rooms with them, but Charlotte isn't impressed with her exaggerated and over-the-top enthusiasm and thinks they're of two different class. Lucie, on the other hand, is intrigued by George Zao's (Rosemary's son) quiet temperament although she finds him a bit eccentric. And as fate would have it, it turns out that the Zaos are attending the same wedding reception, too. 

In spite of Lucie's denial towards her attraction towards George and Charlotte's disapproval, Lucie couldn't keep her eyes away from him and Charlotte would tease her about her mixed blood heritage (Lucie's mother is a Chinese) that it's no surprise that George (Chinese-Australian) would attract her. But Lucie, on the other hand, finds her mixed blood heritage more of a hassle and confusion since she doesn't feel a strong sense of belonging from both sides of the family. 

Lucie and George eventually let their feelings and emotions speak for themselves, but then an embarrassing situation breaks them apart. After this begins the second part of the story which is five years later after that incident, and the reader will soon learn that Lucie has a new fiancé and she's going to cross path with George once again; but this time around there're more deceits and implications as they involve not only her family and fiancé, but also the co-op board of her prestigious apartment building (they're hilarious at some point). 

While Crazy Rich Asians and this book have the element of the rich and the privileged, what set them apart is the setting, the colourful culture of two different continents (Asian and Europe) and of course, not to mention the characterisations which I feel, remains the highlight of Kwan's books. I enjoyed reading about the local culture of CRA, but this book enables me more than a glimpse of the beautiful Capri and the extravagant food and fashion so it was both an entertaining and an "eye-opening" experience to me. While the love story was so-so and I wished there're more developments between Lucie and George (they've chemistry but lacks interactions), overall this still makes a decent read if you're in the mood for something light and fluffy. 
© 2021 Melody's Reading Corner (https://mel-reading-corner.blogspot.sg/), All Rights Reserved. If you are reading this post from other site(s), please take note that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.