Archive | December 15, 2011

The Birthday Present by Barbara Vine

It’s late spring of 1990 and a love affair is flourishing: between Ivor Tesham, a thirty-three year old rising star of Margaret Thatcher’s Conservative government, and Hebe Furnal, a stunning North London housewife stuck in a dull marriage. What excitement Hebe lacks at home, however, is amply compensated for by the well-bred and intensely attractive Tesham – an ardent womanizer and ambitious politican.

On the eve of her twenty-eighth birthday, Tesham decides to give Hebe a present to remember: something far more memorable than, say, the costly string of pearls he’s already lavished upon her. Involving a fashionable new practice known as ‘adventure sex’, a man arranges for his unsuspecting but otherwise willing girlfriend to be snatched from the street, bound and gagged, and delivered to him at a mutually agreed venue …

Set amidst an age of IRA bombings, the first Gulf War, and sleazy politics, The Birthday Present is the gripping story of a fall from grace, and of a man who carries within him all the hypocrisy, greed and self-obsession of a troubled era.

I was attracted to this ‘V’ novel (for my A to Z Challenge) for several reasons: it was a thriller, therefore also good for the Mystery & Suspense Challenge; Barbara Vine is a pen name for Ruth Rendell, I’ve never read anything of hers, but used to love the dramas on TV; and I loved the cover – I love sexy red shoes!

Unfortunately I was disappointed. I found the pace quite slow which meant it wasn’t holding my attention very well. I also didn’t really like either of the main characters – Ivor to be honest is a bit of a dick, and Jane is a little mental – which I found a problem, even though I liked all the other characters.

I’ve just looked on Amazon for other reviews of this book to see if I was missing something, and there were a few that said they loved Vine’s previous work and were disappointed in this. That kind of makes me feel better – it also makes me want to read more of her work – both as Vine, and as herself. Unfortunately though, I can’t recommend this one (some people do on Amazon though, so it just shows different people have different tastes!).

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Mitigating Circumstances by Nancy Taylor Rosenburg – Review

Corruption, violence, rape and a mother’s vengeance are the explosive ingredients of this exceptional thriller. Promotion to chief of the Sex Crimes Division, and a budding romance with colleague Richard Fowler, give DA Lily Forrester the courage to end a bad marriage. Once she gets teenage Shana through the divorce, she can really start to live her own life. But the dream is shattered when a brutal intruder invades her home and attacks Lily and her daughter. And – distraught, terrified, frantic to protect Shana – Lily takes the law into her own hands . . .

This is another book that my Aunt picked up from a charity shop and offered to me before she took it to her holiday rental flat in Bournemouth. I am so glad she did.

I found the first chapter quite hard going as there were lots and lots of different characters thrown at the reader, but once I made it through there and realised who the important ones were and weren’t, I really got into it.

I couldn’t put it down, I was totally gripped. In the mornings I get a tube, then can either walk to work, or change to another tube for a 4 minute journey. Everyday when I was reading this I took the 2nd tube, just so I could read for those extra 4 minutes. I loved it that much.

I read it a few months ago (I know, I should have reviewed it then – naughty me!), so don’t remember too many details to review thoroughly, but I remember enough to have googled Nancy Taylor Rosenburg and been very happy to find she’s got LOADS more novels that I can read. The Mystery & Suspense Challenge 2012 is going to be a fun one!

*As well as counting this in the Mystery & Suspense Reading Challenge I’m using it as R in the A to Z Challenge. I know this is cheating a little as it should be a T (last name), but I genuinely thought she was Nancy Taylor-Rosenburg when I picked it up (Nancy Taylor – Rosenburg didn’t even cross my mind), so I’m going with it! Out of the rules I’ve broken for it (my own specified rules even if not the real ones) this is a minor one. Cheat? Maybe, but I don’t care. I’m just glad I thought it or I would have missed out on this awesome book!