Category: Authors F-J (By Surname)

Paula Hawkins – A Slow Fire Burning [REVIEW]

Title: A Slow Fire Burning

Author: Paula Hawkins

Type: Fiction

Page Count/Review Word Count: 384

Rating: 3.5/5

This is my second book by Paula Hawkins, because back in the day I read The Girl on the Train like everyone else on the planet. I wasn’t particularly taken with it, but that’s only because it felt a little derivative of all of the other thrillers that were coming out at the time.

This one is different, although it still follows all of the tropes that you’d expect from a thriller novel. And that’s just okay, because it does a good job of tapping into them to tell a decent story that will have you desperate to keep on reading.

Hawkins is a decent writer, and what she does well here is to create a bunch of believable characters and to experiment with the ways in which they interact with one another to tell a compelling tale of mystery and intrigue. It has elements of a classic whodunnit, as well as those touches of crime and thriller for us to enjoy.

I also liked that some of the action takes place on the water in canal boats, because I’ve always found them to be a fascinating lifestyle choice. I actually watch a half dozen narrowboaters on YouTube, and I’ve occasionally daydreamed about moving onto a narrowboat myself.

Then we have the fact that one of the characters is a writer, and that there are a bunch of literary references throughout the book. My edition even included some notes from Hawkins on a few of the books that she talked about.

When I read books like this, I tend not to think too much about who might have committed the crime, and that leaves me in a nice position where I can just enjoy the journey instead of having to worry too much about what’s going on.

That made for a cracking little read that definitely wasn’t a slow fire, although neither did it go up in such a blaze that it burned itself out. The pacing was great, the characterisation was top notch, and the mystery at its heart was plenty of fun, too. I’m not sure what more you could ask for from a thriller novel. Happy reading!

Learn more about A Slow Fire Burning.

Peter James – Picture You Dead [REVIEW]

Title: Picture You Dead

Author: Peter James

Type: Fiction

Page Count/Review Word Count: 454

Rating: 4/5

I’m a big fan of Peter James and his Roy Grace books, and this latest instalment in the series is a cracking reminder of why that is.

That’s because it has everything that you might want from a crime novel, from a fascinating case to a gripping plot full of twists and turns and a bunch of memorable characters. For this latter point, we’re not just talking about the police force either, although it’s certainly true that James has written enough books by now that picking up another one is like catching up with some old friends.

Now, let’s talk about the title. James has a habit of using similar titles for each of his books, to the point at which I often find it difficult to tell whether I’ve read them or not. They all include a nod at the plot, though, and this one is no different.

The basic idea here is that a couple of car boot enthusiasts find an old painting at a bargain price. They actually buy it because they like the frame, because they think that the painting itself is vile. Then they leave it out in the sun and some of the paint is destroyed, only to reveal another painting beneath it.

That painting turns out to be worth £5 million, and perhaps more if it can be reunited with the other paintings in the series that it’s a part of. And that’s pretty much the crux of the plot, with the addition of a criminal mastermind who wants to get his hands on the painting, and by any means necessary.

I don’t want to tell you too much more because I don’t want to ruin the plot for you, but you can rest assured that with Peter James, you’re in safe hands. He has a real knack for storytelling, and it’s not a natural gift. It’s something that he’s worked at throughout a lifetime, and if you read some of his older work and compare it to this one, you can see how much he’s improved.

The only downside is that you’ll probably want to read the Roy Grace series in order. True, each book can act as a standalone, and this one is no different. At the same time, there’s also the continuous plot of the cops and their private lives to think about, and that’s a thread that runs from one book to the next.

If you skip in and start with this one, you’re in for a ton of spoilers, and there’s a risk you won’t want to continue. So don’t.

Learn more about Picture You Dead.