‘Blood Sisters’ and a Book BFF

After having my car broken into yesterday my best friend, we’ll call her Book BFF, has invited me for a sleepover with wine, pizza and chocolate.  

I’ve just been reading Eric Carle’s The Very Hungry Caterpillar to Book BFF’s beautiful baby girl who was fascinated with turning the pages while I was looking at the little holes in the food that the caterpillar has crawled through. It seems like only yesterday when I sat cuddled up to my mum and poked my fingers through those same size holes in the book; now I have to do so by proxy, watching Book Baby take the lead. 
Although I packed my kindle to read a book tonight I also had to bring a big library hardback copy of ‘Blood Sisters’ by Graham Masterton. I have only 16 pages to go before I finish it and it’s impossible to wait until tomorrow to find out how it ends! 

I’m relatively new to Masterton’s DS Katie Maguire series and I was hooked from the first chapter of novel that I randomly opened in February.  Now as soon as I have finished one book I order the next as they seem to be a popular choice in my local library. 

DS Maguire is a senior police figure in Cork, holding her own against career criminals, drug barons, human traffickers and serial killers. Not to mention the sexism she encounters from those jealous of her position and cynical about a woman being effective in that role. 
Maguire is not without dramas in her personal life and the reader follows her bumpy relationship road and family crises throughout the series. That said, each novel can be read as a standalone. 

Masterton’s use of local dialect and phrases really makes me feel like a fly on the wall in Cork and the surrounding areas as Maguire works with her team to bring justice to the victims they encounter.  The characters of Maguire’s colleagues also develop along the way, as do those of some of the criminal bosses who appear as either background figures or with a larger share in the plot. There are times when Maguire has to use those people she despises to help her catch another offender. 

The acts of murder and subsequent crime scenes are gritty, detailed and at times gory so depending on your constitution, these books may require a little bit of skimming over some paragraphs. I came across one scene towards the end of Blood Sisters today where I slammed the book shut at something which happened as it the description seemed so realistic that I could imagine standing next to Maguire witnessing the horror that had just unfolded. It wasn’t enough to stop me reading though and I can’t wait to see how Masterton finishes this book off. 

I have recommended this series to several friends, none of whom have been disappointed. If you are a crime fan who is yet to encounter DS Katie Maguire, I suggest you may enjoy making her acquaintance. 

And now it’s time for a refill. And maybe a few more sneaky pages before our pizza is ready…

‘Someone Else’s Skin’

Well hello there, what a delight to see you! I’ve just put the kettle on if you fancy a cuppa…

It’s been a beautiful spring day here but unfortunately my day has largely been spent indoors attending to various tasks, including a declaration of war on pests and a victory over technology.

A few cheeky ants have managed to breach my kitchen today, much earlier in the year than usual and certainly not by the back door where I’m used to tackling them.  They seemed to magically appear by my sink with no warning, no obvious direction of approach and no fanfare – one at a time, they’re randomly just there.  Rincewind and I spent an obsessive 25 minutes keeping watch before I left to stock up on my tools of war and in that time he only noticed one to run away from (honestly, he’s such a coward!).

My victory over technology involved making a printer submit to my technical wizardry when I set it up today.  Alright, wizardry is perhaps too strong a description for my skills;  maybe sheer luck and pleading is a more honest description!  It may not sound much but given how I usually wail in frustration and call someone to help me when it comes to these things, I’m rather pleased with myself.

And now on to my review of a book that I finished reading earlier this week.

Someone Else’s Skin was Sarah Hilary‘s debut novel which follows Detective Inspector Marnie Rome as she finds herself at the scene of an attempted murder in a women’s refuge, opening the door on a trail of lies, deceit and domestic violence.

The book challenges some assumptions society can make about domestic abuse and this makes for some interesting plot developments along the way.  Although cool and collected most of the time, DI Rome’s frustration is palpable as she hovers between professional conduct and a darker temptation to get results for the victims by any means necessary.  The reader also sees her gentler side and her battle to understand a horrific incident from her past.

As the novel progresses, a niggling feeling develops that something isn’t quite adding up in the situation with two key women from the refuge and the true picture remains tantalisingly close but just out of grasp until the climax of the story.  Intertwining the past and present lives of the characters gradually builds a realisation of manipulation, fear and abuse in often unexpected ways.

Like a gothic horror movie, Hilary only allows the reader a glimpse around the corner, never revealing what’s really happening, increasing the sense of unease.  Each time I was sure I had it all figured out, another curve ball was thrown, leaving me grasping once again in confusion as I tried to make sense of the new reality.  At one point towards the end I thought it was all over then realised that with several chapters to go, I couldn’t relax yet.  The ending did not disappoint, with surprises right up to the last page.

This skilfully woven plot serves as a caution that ghosts of the past can haunt someone’s present and with the right (unfortunate) combination of toxic circumstances, can lead them to feed on this darkness to become the nightmare that will later plague others.

I wholeheartedly recommend this book even if you are not a crime fan;  the theme, twists and characters make it a riveting read.

As a final note, I should perhaps mention here that I grew up next door to a family who suffered at the hands of the man of the house.  Everyone knew what was happening when the wife, I’ll call her Claire, wore dark sunglasses even in winter and had yet another sprained wrist from “falling over the dog.”  The police were called on countless occasions when the screaming and thuds became ever louder but in the late 80’s, they said their hands were tied unless this man attacked his wife outside of their front door.  Eventually he turned his attention to his 13 year old stepson and this gave Claire the strength to leave.  The man was never charged.

I truly hope that anyone reading this who has suffered or is suffering from abuse in any of it’s devastating forms is able to seek support and be safe.

And now to lighten my mood, I’m off to make another cup of tea and try to convince Rincewind to move away from where we saw the ants.