Book Review – What To Do When Someone Dies by Nicci French

What to do When Someone Dies is a mystery novel by the writing team of Nicci Gerrard and Sean French. I needed a good read, something to sink my teeth into over the holiday and I hadn’t read a mystery novel in eons. My friend’s advice, “Ignore the title. It’s exciting.” So that’s what I did.

Ellie Faulkner’s world collapses when a police officer shows up at her door with news of a car crash. How do you move on when your husband and his alleged lover are killed? Convinced her husband, Greg wasn’t having an affair, Ellie sets out to prove everyone wrong. Who was this mystery woman in the car with him? The more she investigates, the more she is certain that their deaths were no accident.

It’s easy to be critical of someone’s work. My first thought was to list the less appealing aspects of the book. After all, a review needs to be honest. But it’s still just an opinion. It’s perhaps a matter of taste. I noticed this novel has 5 star reviews down to 1 star. Some enjoyed the building up of suspense over the first 200 pages while others felt it dragged on. I was caught by moments of intrigue but felt frustrated by the first person voice, never getting the point of view of other characters, as though the pendulum was stuck on one side.

On the other hand, the reader has all the power in the world while the book is cradled in their hands – the power to see what’s right about the story. Although Ellie’s actions seemed contrived, unbelievable at times, she was in a frame of mind that perhaps only those who have lost a close family member would understand. I welcomed the bizarre adventure that unfolded, finally gaining momentum in the final third of the book. Yet I walked away asking myself if Ellie’s character was likable. I’m still not sure. One important lesson that I have learned as a writer is that it helps if you like the main character. It helps a lot. Certainly she/he needs to be engaging. But something held this story together. Maybe it was the mundane that seeps into everyday life turning fiery. Maybe it was suspicion set against a backdrop of friends. Maybe it was the faith in her husband, the almighty thing called love, and my hope as a reader that loyalty can prevail. Or maybe it was the inner sleuth in me.

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Book Review – Letters from Skye

A heart-warming book by Jessica Brockmole. Available in bookshops everywhere. 

My thoughts:

There is a woman I miss at Barnes and Noble at Southpoint Mall in Durham, NC. She never failed to recommend my kind of book. Somehow, she just knew my taste. Letters from Skye was her last recommendation to me before I moved back to Sweden.

I’ll never forget arriving at the Wright Brothers National Memorial, Outer Banks, North Carolina, only to find there was a book signing with children’s author Suzanne Tate. We had a lovely chat and at the tail end, Suzanne recommended a book she had just finished. Lo and behold, she couldn’t believe it, when I told her that that very book was sitting on the front seat of my car and that I had been reading it during our drive to OBX. Letters from Skye started a thread of emails between us, a novel we both didn’t want to end.

I want what every reader wants – to be swept away, and Jessica Brockmole’s Letters from Skye carried me effortlessly on a gust of wind I’ll not soon forget. Drawing me into the landscape of Scotland’s remote Isle of Skye and setting the tone for a love story across continents at the time of war, clinched it. Elspeth and Davey’s poignant story is gracefully laced across two generations and with it, the turmoil of an uncertain world. Letters from Skye is an epistolary novel that reflects the beauty of an old, yellowed photograph in a family album and the feeling it imbues – a spirit that contemporary women hold dearly.

/Susan

Visit Jessica Brockmole’s website at: Letters from Skye

Visit Jessica Brockmole at Goodreads:  Goodreads