The Secret by Katerina Diamond

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The Secret by Katerina Diamond

I really wish I was ending on 2016 on a blog high. I have read some wonderful books this year (A Little Life I’m looking at you) but sadly The Secret by Katerina Diamond is not one of them.

It didn’t start particularly well when I realised this was the second one in a series and I had not read the first. I thought maybe I could get away without reading the first. I’m still not sure if reading the first would have made any difference.

The Secret flips between so many narratives it gets really confusing and I’m still not sure if I understand what’s going on. So here’s my plot overview (whether this is actually what happens I don’t know).

Bridget Reid is an undercover cop working in a ring of female abuse. When her cover is blown she goes on the run and the police try and track her down.

Imogen’s story flashes between the past and the present, the former focuses on an attack she suffered, the latter on the consequences of her attack.

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Then there’s cop Adrian’s point of view and then the most interesting – an unnamed teenager who follows his bullying dad’s lead and gets involved in his antics in a prostitute ring. He recounts tells of being forced to have sex with the girls, his dad beating them up and watching girls dying from overdoses.

When his sister dies, his dad steals another similar girl and a mass ‘Madeline McCann style’ search occurs but the parents end up going down for her murder when the police find a bloody tissues with the girl’s DNA on. The unmade teenager does have more empathy than his dad and tries to look after the girl. But after twenty some odd years their lies catch up with them and they are busted.

There are far too many narratives in the book with chapters which are so short making it so confusing. I was quite into it in the beginning but the introduction of characters with no background (probably due to the fact I hadn’t read the first book) left me drifting off while reading it.

Sadly this one will not be one of my books of the year.

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The Butcher’s Hook by Janet Ellis

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The Butcher’s Hook by Janet Ellis

 

Firstly, let’s take a moment to appreciate the cover. You are not going to miss this one on the bookshelf.

 

I seem to be going through a phase of reading crime based novels. The Butcher’s Hook is in that genre, combined with another of my favourites – history, I thought this would be perfect.

 

It’s the first book by Janet Ellis, former Blue Peter presenter and I have to say I am slightly sceptical of ‘celebrities’ writing books, but I didn’t realise this until I bought it.

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Set in 1763 Anne lives a modest life with her parents and new born sister. Her mother, weary from childbirth and numerous losses of children has pretty much given up, while her father cannot wait to be rid of Anne and marry her off. She has a tutor who is a friend of her fathers, a Dr Edwards who is rather dodgy and even gets her to perform a sexual act on her. But her father stops her education as marrying her off is apparently more important.

 

Her father sets her up with the rather unfortunately named, Mr Onions, who is a great beast of a man and is not at all Anne’s type. She does everything she can to get out of seeing him and lies to him and her family to avoid him.

 

The boy she really wants works in the butchers. Fob is a nice enough chap but is slightly lowly in status for Anne. She visits the butchers as much as she can with her housekeeper and they strike up a love interest. She longs for every moment with Fob and as young lovers do they dream of a life where they can be together.

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Anne is prepared to stop anyone in her way and at no matter the cost. First she starts with Mr Edwards who sees them together and threatens to tell her father. She lures Mr into a trap by asking for private tutoring and uses her womanly ways to get what she wants. She stabs him and kills him.

 

Next she moves onto a young boy who saw them together and throws him from the bell tower.

 

And worst of all. She murders Margaret. When she finds out that Margaret, a friend of Fub’s is getting rather close to him she becomes insanely jealous. Anne stabs Margaret and then sets the place on fire.

 

When Fub tells Anne they cannot be together she has a meltdown as she truly believed they would be able to escape social constraints and run off into the sunset together.

 

Until the murders started the book wasn’t really going anywhere. I felt that the turn in Anne’s character from mischievous to murderess was slightly unbelievable. It’s not a book which will leave you wanting to read it all over again but I guess it wasn’t a bad way to spend a few hours.

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Black Rabbit Hall by Eve Chase

 

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I looked at Black Rabbit Hall for months on Amazon each time thinking shall I buy it or will it be one of those weird books that will leaving me pondering why I’ve wasted my time and money on it. I took the gamble and I’m actually quite glad I did.

It’s present day and Lorna is drawn to Cornwall, she doesn’t know why but she makes her new fiancé John drive her around it’s windy lanes in the quest for a wedding venue and they stumble across Black Rabbit Hall. Much to John’s dismay she decides to approach the occupiers of the run down building for a tour.

Flash back to the 60s and the Altons are one big happy family. Told from Amber’s perspective, the family have an idyllic childhood in Black Rabbit Hall until their mother is tragically killed in a horse riding accident. The family, and most of all their father, fall apart. Being the eldest girl, Amber effectively loses her childhood and becomes a mother figure to her siblings.

Much to their disgust their father marries the abhorrent Caroline who changes everything the family has known. No longer can Amber dress how she wants or can Kitty play in the mud, everything must be prim and proper. Oh and course there’s Caroline’s son Lucian who is rude and repulsive – initially. The family struggle with money difficulties and the marriage to the wealthy Caroline saves Black Rabbit Hall.

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Amber’s disgust toward Jack soon turns into lust and the pair do anything they can to spend small moments together. Caroline would love Lucian to marry into a well to do family so when she finds Amber and Lucian in a state of undress she scolds her step daughter and sends her son away. When she discovers Amber is pregnant she sends her into confinement and immediately takes the child from her once born.

Lorna’s inquisitive nature comes from the fact she’s adopted – see the connection yet?  When talking to Dill and Caroline the pair realise that the reason Lorna is drawn to Black Rabbit Hall is because she’s more familiar with the place than she realises as she is in fact Amber and Lucian’s daughter. With nothing left to lose Caroline informs Lorna of this who immediately tracks them down. The pair happily are together and live in New York.

It’s all a happy ending as Lorna and John marry with the proud Amber and Lucian in attendance.

If you’re looking for a feel good read with a hint of hazy summer days and mystery, then this is it.