Archive for the ‘Constable and Robinson’ Category

Review: Lost and Found – Tom Winter

Lost and Found by Tom Winter

Title: Lost and Found
Author: Tom Winter
Publication date: 21 February 2013
Publisher: Corsair (Constable & Robinson)
Format: Hardback
ISBN: 9781472101594
Length: 314 pages
Genre: Contemporary fiction
Age group: Adult
Source: Author
Add it: Goodreads
Buy it: Amazon | The Book Depository
Rating: 4 / 5

In a nutshell

It started with a letter…

Carol is married to a man she doesn’t love and mother to a daughter she doesn’t understand. Crippled with guilt, she can’t shake the feeling that she has wasted her life. So she puts pen to paper and writes a Letter to the Universe.

Albert is a widowed postman, approaching retirement age, and living with his cat, Gloria, for company. Slowly being pushed out at his place of work, he is forced down to the section of the post office where they sort undeliverable mail. When a series of letters turns up with a smiley face drawn in place of an address, he cannot help reading them.

My thoughts

Lost and Found has been among my most anticipated books of 2013 and I knew I’d have to read it the minute I saw the synopsis. I seem to have a soft spot for bitter-sweet and touching stories and it definitely seemed like one. A few chapters in, however, I realized it is in fact a bit different from what I expected – but not in a bad way. Not at all. I actually found it really hard to put it down and, had it not been for me being ill at the time, I would have probably read it in one day.

The reason why I was taken by surprise, I suppose, is that I expected some sort of a love story or a story of a beautiful friendship. A tear-jerker, basically. I mean, it sounds like one, doesn’t it? And while it is a sweet and occasionally moving book, I would have never predicted how funny it actually is. As odd as it may sound, for me most of the humour came from the protagonist, Carol, who’s been trapped in an unhappy marriage for most of her life and her husband, Bob. Man, they’re a hilarious duo. Bob is one of those guys who don’t have the faintest idea about the fact that their marriage isn’t working or in fact, hasn’t been working for a long time. He lives in denial. On top of that, he acts like a big kid. Which, under normal circumstances, would really annoy me. And of course it’s a sad situation too, isn’t it? Living your life in a monotone way and with someone you shouldn’t have married in the first place. Yet, through Carol’s sarcastic thoughts and comments, somehow it all became entertaining.

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Review: Reservation Road – John Burnham Schwartz

Cover of Reservation Road by John Burnham Schwartz

Title: Reservation Road
Author: John Burnham Schwartz
Publication date: May 3, 2012
Publisher: Corsair (Constable & Robinson)
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 978-1-78033-458-5
Length: 292 pages
Genre: Thriller
Age group: Adult
Source: Publisher
Add it: Goodreads
Buy it: Amazon US | Amazon UK | The Book Depository

Synopsis

At the close of a beautiful summer day near the quiet Connecticut town where they live, the Learner family – Ethan and Grace, their children, Josh and Emma – stop at a gas station on their way home from a concert. Josh Learner, lost in a ten-year-old’s private world, is standing at the edge of the road when a car comes racing around the bend. He is hit and instantly killed. The car speeds away.

From this moment forward, Reservation Road becomes a harrowing countdown to the confrontation between two very different men. The hit-and-run driver is a small-town lawyer named Dwight Arno, a man in desperate need of a second chance. Dwight is also the father of a ten-year-old boy, who was asleep in the car the night Josh Learner was killed.

In a gripping narrative woven from the voices of Ethan, Dwight, and Grace, Reservation Road tells the story of two ordinary families facing an extraordinary crisis–a book that reads like a thriller but opens up a world rich with psychological nuance and emotional wisdom.

My thoughts

The reason why I wanted to pick this book up -apart from the fact that the story seemed very interesting and I’ve always loved thrillers/mysteries – is that it seemed different. I love books that are narrated by more than one person so the idea that Reservation Road is told by not one but three different people who, even though they don’t know each other at first, are connected has definitely piqued my interest. And how glad I am that I did pick this up! Not only is it a beautifully written story with a haunting atmosphere but it is something that makes you think and will definitely stay with you for a long time.

Reservation Road ticks every box: sophisticated and beautiful writing which grabs your attention from the very first page, everyday, vulnerable characters in a situation which could easily happen to anyone, haunting atmosphere and thought-provoking plot. It’s brilliant how well Schwartz works with three so different people and how he manages to create three entirely different narratives. He describes the life of  a divorced lawyer just as well as the innocence of an eight-year-old girl or what the dead boy’s family is going through.

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Review: Agatha Raisin: As The Pig Turns – M.C. Beaton

Book cover of Agatha Raisin As The Pig Turns by M.C. Beaton

Title: Agatha Raisin: As The Pig Turns 
Author: M.C. Beaton 
Publication date: April 19th, 2012
Publisher: Constable & Robinson
Format: Paperback
ISBN:978-1-78033-160-7
Length: 294 pages
Genre: Mystery
Age group: Adult
Source: Publisher
Add it: Goodreads
Buy it: Amazon US | Amazon UK | The Book Depository

Winter Parva, a traditional Cotswolds village next door to Carsely, has decided to throw a celebratory hog roast to mark the beginning of the winter holiday festivities. And Agatha Raisin has arrived with friend and rival in the sleuthing business, Toni, to enjoy the merriment. But as the spit pig is carried towards the bed of fiery charcoal, Agatha – and the rest of the village – realise that things aren’t as they seem…

Very quickly it transpires that the hog roast is in fact the body of Gary Beech, a policeman not much loved in Winter Parva. And although Agatha has every intention of leaving the affair to the police, she just can’t resist in joining the fray to try and solve the case herself!

The Agatha Raisin series was recommended to me by many of my bookish friends, so naturally, I had to find out what the hype was about. When I first read the synopsis, I was expecting something along the lines of a modern day Miss Marple or the female version of Sherlock Holmes, but that’s where I was wrong. M.C. Beaton’s series, in fact, is quite different from both Doyle’s and Christie’s novels. Did I still enjoy it? I would say yes.

To be frank, I haven’t read any of Beaton’s previous books in the series but I had no difficulties with getting into the story whatsoever. As The Pig Turns is the 22nd instalment but don’t be put off if you haven’t read any Agatha Raisin books before – you’ll be able to figure out who’s who soon enough. Agatha Raisin is a middle-aged woman with a nicotine addiction and a penchant for swearing, and being disagreeable. Even though I was expecting something entirely different and it took me some time to actually get to know and like her, I managed to warm to her after a while. Even though she has a reputation for her ‘stiff upper lip’, you cannot help noticing that there’s a more vulnerable side to her and despite the fact that she deals with murder on a daily basis, she’s still as frightened as we are.

As much as I’d like to say it was a fantastic read, there’s still a few things I think this book is lacking. As far as the characters are concerned, it’s great. As far as the plot is concerned, it’s not so great. What I missed the most was details. I love the fact that the book is fast paced but most of the time I felt like we were flying through a lot of details that might have been important for us readers. We don’t know what goes on in Agatha’s mind and we’re not given any clues by the police either. Forget everything you’ve read in Christie’s novels, from lengthy explanations to detailed crime scenes and investigations – this book is definitely not like that. Maybe it’s just the Christie fan in me that says this but I think this book could have been so much better if it was more focused on details. What I love the most about mysteries is the fact that readers are part of the investigation process. You get a chance to guess who the murderer might be or what the motive might have been – and in many cases, the book just keeps you guessing right until the end. As for As The Pig Turns, however, I didn’t have this feeling at all and now that I know what happens, I don’t think anyone could have guessed what was going on or who might be the one to blame.

Other than that, I think you should give this series a try if you like fast paced mysteries. The characters will really grow on you along the way and you’ll find yourself breezing through the story as Agatha and her staff are faced with different obstacles and enemies each day. Even though it was slightly less detailed than I would have liked it to be, all in all it was an exciting read.

Rating:
*Thank you to Constable & Robinson for sending me a review copy of this book*