Book Blog Tour ~ Death in the Stars by Frances Brody

Eclip9780349414317 (1)se fever has gripped Britain in 1927; in Yorkshire, trusted sleuth Kate Shackleton has been approached by theatre star Selina Fellini to accompany her to a viewing party. Kate, canny and wary as ever, suspects an ulterior motive, and when Selina’s friend and party guest Billy Moffatt dies in mysterious circumstances, Kate can’t help but start investigating.

This is the fourth year in a row that I have been asked to read a Kate Shackleton Mystery for my blog, and I have to say, I do look forward to that email arriving! This is the ninth in the series by Frances Brody, and though I have enjoyed the preceding three mysteries that I have read, there’s no worry here that you have to go back to the start in order to enjoy the newest one.

The mystery itself is self-contained, as always, so the enjoyment comes from simply going along for the ride, and trying to work out who the villain is. And this is a book set in the theatre world of the 1920s, meaning there’s glamour and excitement to be enjoyed, alongside the sense that it won’t be long until these music hall performers find their stars eclipsed by movie stars.

As I’ve noted in previous reviews of Brody’s mysteries, I am always struck by the carefulness with which a woman’s place in society is handled. Kate Shackleton is not a 2017 version of a 1920s woman; she’s a woman of her time – confident and sure in her ability to solve these cases, but conscious of how she is viewed and treated by the men around her.

The mystery itself is a fun one to try and work out; I was none-the-wiser as to the identity of the villain throughout the book until the final reveal. There are plenty of red herrings to contend with, as with all the best mystery novels, and I was well and truly left guessing.

Death in the Stars
First published: 5th October 2017
ISBN: 9780349414317
Review copy provided by publisher

Book Blog Tour ~ The Girl in the Road by Monica Byrne

26200137A young woman called Meena wakes up one morning covered in blood. There are mysterious snakebites across her chest. She knows she’s in danger but something has happened to her memory. All she can do is run – but why? And from whom?

As Meena plots her escape she hears of the Trail – an extraordinary, forbidden bridge that spans the Arabian sea, connecting India to Africa like a silver ribbon. Its purpose is to harness the power of the ocean – Blue Energy – but it also offers a subculture of travellers a chance for sanctuary and adventure.

Convinced the Trail is her salvation, Meena gathers supplies – GPS, a scroll reader, a sealable waterproof pod. And so begins her extraordinary journey – both physical and spiritual – from India to Ethiopia, the home of her birth. But as she runs away from the threat of violence she is also running towards a shocking revelation about her past and her family.

The Girl in the Road is such an unusual novel, and one that I’m almost certain I wouldn’t have picked up if it I hadn’t been offered it for a review. Based on the synopsis alone, I assumed it was a straight crime/mystery novel, but this book doesn’t seem to fit into any one genre. It’s one part science-fiction, one part adventure, set in the future with a focus on self-identity and power. The cover gives no real clue of what to expect; in all honesty I felt as though it had a feeling of the Millennium series about it, from The Girl… title to the imagery used. There’s an overlap, definitely, but a it’s different feel altogether.

It took a while to really get going; I found it difficult to pin down all the different character names at first. Meena’s story is a little confusing to begin with, and then Byrne introduces a secondary protagonist, Mariama. Ultimately I found it a lot easier to engage with Meena’s story than with Mariama’s, though it’s easy to see why Byrne felt the latter’s was important to tell.

This is a book full of incredible ideas, and I do believe that it’s something very different to what most people will read this year. There’s a shocking moment that I feel even alluding to is venturing into spoiler territory; it’s probably a book worth reading just for that moment.

I can’t say that it’s a book that I enjoyed wholeheartedly; I wasn’t left with an entirely positive or negative feeling. I think I’d recommend it as a read just to see how other people feel about it!

The Girl in the Road by Monica Byrne
First published: September 2015
ISBN: 9780804138840
Little Brown
Review copy provided by publisher