Emily Stewart is the girl who claims to stand between the living and the dead. During the quiet summer of 1925, she and her brother, Michael, are thirteen-year-old twins-privileged, precocious, wandering aimlessly around their family's estate. One day, Emily discovers that she can secretly crack her ankle in such a way that a sound appears to burst through the stillness of midair. Emily and Michael gather the neighborhood children to fool them with these "spirit knockings." Soon, however, this game of contacting the dead creeps into a world of adults still reeling from World War I. When the twins find themselves dabbling in the uncertain territory of human grief and family secrets, everything spins wildly out of control.
Loosely inspired by the true story of the Fox sisters (whose actions kickstarted the 19th century Spiritualism Movement), author Paul Elwork mixes things up a bit by telling a similar story but from a brother / sister perspective. At the novel's start, in the year 1925, Emily and Michael are thirteen year old twins living on the family's East Coast estate of Ravenwood. After losing their father in World War 1, the children are often left to find their own ways to keep themselves occupied throughout a day.
"Your father," her mother said, "was always interested in the things beneath things."
Emily nodded at this. "Isn't everyone?"
"Not as much as you might think."
Michael is described as a bookish loner who "before his 10th birthday had discovered that he could not tolerate most people well," while sister Emily is creative, curious, and inventive. Emily becomes captivated by the family story of Great Aunt Regina, who died in the late 1800s (only 16 years old) when she had a fall near the estate's riverbank. She's now said to haunt Ravenwood. Around this time of Emily's budding interest in the paranormal, she also discovers a trick where she can make her ankle crack on command. This becomes the basis for Emily and Michael's "spirit knocking" gatherings, initially held just the neighborhood kids but quickly catches on with the local adults as well.
Michael becomes the team's hype man, crafting ghost stories inspired by all his reading. When they get into doing readings for the towsfolk, the twins claim to use the ghost of Great Aunt Regina as their spirit guide. Once adults mourning loved ones lost to WW1 start seeking out the twins for solace, what starts as a game soon turns to something quite a bit more serious.
Sherlock Holmes creator Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, who became quite a prominent follower of Spiritualism, gets a brief mention in this book. In regards to the paranormal theme, there is nothing particularly spooky or scary here, which is largely why my reading experience was ultimately somewhat disappointing. While there is a definite poetic flair to Elwork's writing style, the overall tone just had steady note of sadness throughout the whole plot.
This is the story of how thirteen year old Linda came to be involved in the murder of one man and the suicide of another. The police and her social worker think they know the answer, but they've got it wrong. Here Linda tells her own story. She sees her world and what has happened to her with compelling clarity. Her voice is direct, cool, and ruthlessly honest. She'll persuade you that she is neither victim nor fool -- that the facts speak for themselves.
~ from inside dust jacket (hardcover edition)
POTENTIAL TRIGGER WARNING: This story involves themes of sexual abuse, pedophilia and suicide.
Thirteen year old Linda is brought in on suspicion involvement with the deaths of two men, (one a murder, one a suicide). The story is told from Linda's perspective -- via conversations with police detectives and social workers -- but her version of events and the tone it is presented in set her up as a possibly unreliable narrator.
If you're a fan of the tv program The First 48, this story has a somewhat similar feel to that. In a nutshell, Linda witnesses a scuffle between Jack Green, a co-worker of Linda's mother, and Frank Perry. Just hours later, both are dead. At first, Linda gives the impression that she is merely an innocent witness to the events, but how does she explain arriving at the police station with blood all over her clothes and under her fingernails?
Linda's personality proves to be a blend of complexity, oddness and a certain degree of unlikeablity. Even though she throws out some weird thoughts here and there, it's hard not to feel for Linda. She grows up in a home where her mother has a rotating door of boyfriends and baby-daddies (Linda's father having died when she was a baby), the house full of kids her mother largely neglects. Linda takes up the care of her younger brothers but later struggles with depression after suffering sexual abuse at the hands of her mom's boyfriend of the moment.
A small ray of hope gets infused into this bleak story when, by some strange stroke of luck, Linda's mother actually gets involved with a decent guy! A bit older than the mother's usual picks, but he proves to be a solid father-figure type in Linda's life, at least compared to what she's previously had to pick from! From this man, Linda gets lessons in money, specifically stocks & investments -- knowledge that will prove most useful in her future. But is her time with him as innocent as it first seems?
The setup of this novel, as far as the short chapters and conversation style make for a quick read. That, and the whole thing is under 200 pages. Brock Cole's writing style is engaging enough to keep one reading... I was just hoping for MORE. The plot description had potential but something about it as a whole fell a bit flat for me. There also wasn't enough meat to the writing to create much of a take-away factor for me in the end, as far as a moral message, thought-provoking social commentary, etc. NOTE: if you are a sensitive reader, this story deals with dark themes and some of the language does get rather sexually graphic. Also maybe worth noting for some readers: Cole chose not to use quotations marks. That's right, quotation marks: NONE. Something to be aware of if that is a personal peeve for you as a reader.
This was my fourth book by Jane Casey and as usual, she did not let me down. This one begins with a teenager coming home early from her dad's home from a weekend stay. The real reason why is given later in the book, but the beginning having you believe it was because of her stepmother. And, believe me, if I had a stepmother like that, I don't think I would ever go to my dad's house. She is just one person in a very long list of suspects in this book.
The teenager, Chloe, is a little slow and when she opens up the front door to her house, all she can see is blood everywhere. However, because Chloe is what she is, she thinks its dirt and wonders how it got everywhere like it did.
On to the investigation, Maeve Kerrigan is called in to determine what actually happened in Chloe's house and the story enfolds into a very strange case.
As usual, there is the action and suspense that is typical of any Jane Case book. Also the entertaining and enjoyable factor that I have come to expect with her books. A story that will have you guessing and guessing again and again.
Thanks to St. Martins Press and Net Galley for providing me with a free e-galley in exchange for an honest, unbiased review.
Chloe Emery returns home after a weekend away to find her mother gone. In her place is a wave of blood covering the house. Maeve Kerrigan and her colleagues are called to investigate. What secrets was Kate Emery keeping and where is she? If there are all the signs of violence, but no body, is it really murder?
This is the first Jane Casey novel I have read and I didn’t know what I had been missing out on. My first thought on finishing the book was – Brilliant.
The narrative grabs from the opening, leaving the reader intrigued to find out more. I did not have any previous reader relationship with Kerrigan and her colleagues so I was a little worried that I would find some aspects of the story passing me by. My worries were unfounded.
There is an acerbic, dark humour to the writing that I felt worked perfectly with the story and characters. I loved the interaction between Kerrigan and Derwent. The banter offset the seriousness of the case to a tee. Theirs is a great example of a fictional duo, the trust shown in the easy, yet sometimes turbulent relationship between the two. Kerrigan’s new colleague Georgia Shaw is annoying, too over confident for someone so newly part of the team, trying too hard to impress the wrong people, though that is, I think, how Jane Casey intended her to be portrayed.
The story revolves around few characters, making it easy to follow. As a result there is a closed room mystery feel to the novel. It is obvious that there was more to Kate Emery that met the eye and that the houses on Valerian Road were keeping many secrets. The story examines the fact that we never truly know someone and that the motives behind their actions aren’t always as they appear.
This is book seven in the Maeve Kerrigan series but it can easily be read without having read the rest in the series.
Cleverly constructed, engaging and gripping, the perfect combination for a crime thriller. I look forward to reading more from Jane Casey soon.