Cape May by Chip Cheek

Cape May

I was thrilled to be invited to an afternoon tea in Covent Garden at the end of last year celebrating the forthcoming fiction for Orion in 2019. You can see all about that event here.

One of the books I was lucky enough to bring home was Cape May by Chip Cheek and I’m delighted to be reviewing it today.

Cape May is published by Orion imprint Weidenfield and Nicholson today, 30th April 2019, and is available for purchase through the links here.

Cape May

SEPTEMBER 1957

Henry and Effie, young newlyweds from Georgia, arrive in Cape May, New Jersey, for their honeymoon. It’s the end of the season and the town is deserted. As they tentatively discover each other, they begin to realize that everyday married life might be disappointingly different from their happily-ever-after fantasy.

Just as they get ready to cut the trip short, a decadent and glamorous set suddenly sweep them up into their drama – Clara, a beautiful socialite who feels her youth slipping away; Max, a wealthy playboy and Clara’s lover; and Alma, Max’s aloof and mysterious half-sister.

The empty beach town becomes their playground, and as they sneak into abandoned summer homes, go sailing, walk naked under the stars, make love, and drink a great deal of gin, Henry and Effie slip from innocence into betrayal, with irrevocable consequences that reverberate through the rest of their lives…

My Review of Cape May

Henry and Effie’s honeymoon will be more than they could have imagined.

Cape May is a brilliantly written sensuous, and sensual, portrait of a completely hedonistic and sybaritic lifestyle that both fascinated and slightly repulsed me! It reminded me so much of The Great Gatsby but with greater carnality, and some readers might find the sexual references too frequent or graphic for their tastes, but I thought they were essential in creating the atmosphere. I felt Chip Cheek conveyed the brittle, sparkling veneer of a rotten and corrupt lifestyle in a manner that filled me with admiration. I actually felt quite tainted by events and almost voyeuristic of them at times. This is such effective writing because Chip Cheek made me experience first hand some of the emotions Henry in particular feels. Much of this effect comes through the taut, precise prose and imagery. There is, for example, great power and excitement in the crashing waves on the beach, but there’s also huge threat too so that disaster is never very far away.

The frenetic desire to enjoy life demonstrated by the claustrophobic quintet of Alma, Effie, Henry, Clara and Max has a feeling of desperation that made me glad of my mundane and monogamous lifestyle. For all the drinking, sexual activity and partying, I felt an underlying sadness for each of the characters. They seemed so real that I felt sorry for them in their pursuit of happiness and fulfilment. Reading Cape May made me wonder how much we every truly know those closest to us and how and why their lives turn out as they do.

The atmosphere of the setting, of Cape May and the empty, off season houses, vibrated with menace so that I fully expected an implosion at any moment. The vacant houses represented the vacant souls of the characters for me in a way I found surprisingly moving. I loved the way the book ended because it conveyed so perfectly the way in which a moment or decision can affect an entire life.

Cape May is a book I suspect will polarise readers. References to sexual acts and body parts may not suit all, but never did I feel they were inappropriate or gratuitous. In Cape May Chip Cheek is taking the reader on a voyage of self-discovery with Effie and Henry and the journey isn’t always a comfortable one.

I thought Cape May was sensitively and honestly written, atmospheric and affecting. I suspect I’ll be thinking about it for some time.

About Chip Cheek

chip cheek.jpg

Chip Cheek’s stories have appeared in ​The Southern Review​, ​Harvard Review​, ​Washington Square, and other journals and anthologies. He has been awarded scholarships to the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, the Tin House Summer Writers’ Workshop, and the Vermont Studio Center, as well as an Emerging Artist Award from the St. Botolph Club Foundation.

He lives in El Segundo, California, with his wife and baby daughter.

You can follow Chip on Twitter @ChipCheek and visit his website for more information.

One More Lie by Amy Lloyd

one more lie

My huge thanks to Rachel Kennedy at Penguin Random House for a copy of One More Lie by Amy Lloyd in return for an honest review.

Published by Penguin imprint Century, One More Lie is available for purchase through the publisher links here.

One More Lie

one more lie

How do you live with yourself as an adult when you were convicted of murder as a child?

And when you can’t remember the crime…
HOW DO YOU KNOW YOU’RE GUILTY?

Charlotte wants a fresh start. She wants to forget her past, forget her crime – and, most of all, forget that one terrible moment.

It’s the reason she’s been given a new name, a new life. The reason she spent years in prison.

But even on the outside, with an ankle monitor and court-mandated therapy, she can’t escape the devastating memory of the night that turned her and her only friend into national hate figures.

But now her friend has found her.

And despite the lies she tells to survive, she soon finds herself being dragged deeper and deeper into a past she cannot confront.

Even if it’s going to cost Charlotte her life…

My Review of One More Lie

A new life for Charlotte doesn’t mean the past can be escaped.

Oh my goodness – YES! I loved One More Lie. Amy Lloyd’s writing held me gripped from the very first word until the final full stop. Her style is just perfect for the genre, with a range of sentence structure that filled me with admiration because it matched so brilliantly the atmosphere of the moment. The narrative voice of Charlotte’s younger self is completely convincing. Amy Lloyd’s ability to convey taut, ominous, emotion through a single word or a lengthier sentence makes One More Lie an absolute masterclass in effective writing. It was only when I finished reading One More Lie that I realised I’d been holding tension in my body throughout. The book is so good that it had a physical effect on me.

Alongside that palpable tension is a first rate story. The plotting simply didn’t allow me to put the book down. I felt as ensnared by wanting to know what happened as Charlotte feels by the life she now has and her attempts to remember the past. The pace is fast, the balance of ‘Then’ and ‘Now’ as well as ‘Her’ and ‘Him’ and the gradual uncovering of the truth is completely hypnotic. Events are familiar to the reader too, as similar things have happened in real life which adds to the compelling nature of the read.

Both Sean and Charlotte are superb creations. Flawed, obsessive, vulnerable and deceptive they wormed their way into my mind so that I couldn’t help admire and like them in spite of the terrible crime they have committed. The way their relationship unfolds and the past and present gradually come together is fascinating.

I thought the themes explored were also brilliant. Amy Lloyd weaves in society’s rapid jumping to conclusions, and the treatment of difference, the impact of nature and nurture and the consequences of how a small untruth or event can unravel several lives,  completely perfectly. The author never preaches and is never obvious or unsubtle but still manages to make the reader consider their own standpoint and to experience what life on the outer edges of society can be like through those passages relating to Sean and the women in Charlotte’s accommodation, especially.

One More Lie is manipulative of the reader as it is impossible not to become embroiled in the story on so many levels. It is deceptive and shocking. I thought One More Lie was stunning and I can’t recommend it enough.

About Amy Lloyd

amy lloyd

Amy Lloyd studied English and Creative Writing at Cardiff Metropolitan University. In 2016 she won the Daily Mail Bestseller Competition for her debut novel The Innocent Wife which, when it was published, became a Sunday Times top ten bestseller. Amy lives in Cardiff with her partner, who is also a published novelist

You can follow Amy on Twitter @AmyLloydWrites and find her on Facebook.

Blog Tour – Our Life In A Day by @jamiefewery

Our Life in a day

I have to begin this blog post with an apology! I had completely forgotten that I’d agreed to be on the blog tour for Jamie Fewery’s Our Life in a Day organised by Tracy Fenton before I decided to take a blog tour sabbatical and I have already posted my review of the wonderful Our Life In A Day although I’m sharing it again today.

However, I’m sure Jamie will forgive me for sharing my review twice because I absolutely loved the book!

Our Life In A Day was published by Orion in ebook on 27th December 2018 and now available in paperback through these links.

Our Life In A Day

Our Life in a day

The rules are simple. Choose the most significant moments from your relationship – one for each hour in the day.

You’d probably pick when you first met, right?
And the instant you knew for sure it was love?
Maybe even the time you watched the sunrise after your first night together?

But what about the car journey to the holiday where everything started to go wrong? Or your first proper fight?

Or that time you lied about where you’d been?

It’s a once in a lifetime chance to learn the truth.

But if you had to be completely honest with the one you love, would you still play?

For Esme and Tom, the game is about to begin. And once they start, there’s no going back…

My Review of Our Life In A Day

When Tom’s best friend Annabel pushes him into chatting to Esme at a fancy dress party the consequences will reverberate throughout the next decade.

This is going to be one of those reviews that is difficult to write without including spoilers so I’ll state unequivocally that I absolutely adored Our Life In A Day and cannot recommend it highly enough.

There are so many aspects that make Our Life In A Day a poignant, touching and emotional read. The themes Jamie Fewery includes are devastatingly effectively portrayed so that the reader has complete understanding of how and why Tom and Esme behave as they do. I don’t think it is revealing too much to say the concept of depression gives an unexpected gravitas to the narrative that is compelling and affecting. I loved the fact that, with honesty as a major theme to the novel, when they meet neither Esma nor Tom is in fancy dress like everyone else. This is a portent of the way in which identity and truth will resonate throughout their relationship.

I thought the plot was a wonderful concept. Esme’s 10th anniversary game is the foundation of all the action in a manner that is authentic and also somewhat terrifying because I wasn’t sure throughout what the outcome of the game might be. The denouement to Our Life In A Day left me tearful and emotionally drained.

The balance of focus between Esme and Tom is delicately wrought giving each an importance and status in the story. The fact that there is only a small cast of supporting characters adds to the intensity and emotion and at times I could hardly bring myself to read on, whilst simultaneously not wanting to stop. It was Tom in particular who touched me. On occasion I wanted to shake him and remonstrate with him and yet I still wanted to hold him close and comfort him too. People close to me have experienced similar demons and the way in which Jamie Fewery depicts Tom’s struggles is incredibly accurate and impactful.

To try to explain Our Life In A Day further might risk spoiling the read for others. I think Jamie Fewery has written an important narrative because he has woven in aspects that are enormous problems and issues for both society and individuals. That said, Our Life In A Day is neither moralising nor didactic. It is instead a wonderful, heart breaking, and emotional depiction of love and life. I absolutely adored it.

About Jamie Fewery

Jamie

Jamie Fewery is an author, journalist and copywriter. He has written for the Daily Telegraph, Five Dials and Wired, and works for a London-based marketing and creative agency. He lives in Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire with his wife and son. Our Life in a Day is his first novel. You can follow Jamie on Twitter @jamiefewery and Instagram @jamiefeweryauthor.

There’s more with these other bloggers too:

Our Life in a Day blog tour UPDATED

The Daughters of Ironbridge by Mollie Walton

daughters of Ironbridge

My enormous thanks to Rebecca Mascull, aka Mollie Walton, for ensuring I received a copy of The Daughters of Ironbridge in return for an honest review. This author has a special place in my blogger heart because the launch of Song of the Sea Maid was one of the first bookish events I went to as a blogger and I wrote all about it here, interviewing Rebecca about the book here. I also reviewed Song of the Sea Maid here and another of Rebecca’s books, Miss Marley, completed as a tribute to her friend and fellow novelist Vanessa Lafaye, here.

The Daughters of Ironbridge was published by Zaffre on 18th April 2019 and is available for purchase here.

The Daughters of Ironbridge

daughters of Ironbridge

Anny Woodvine’s family has worked at the ironworks for as long as she can remember. The brightest child in her road and the first in her family to learn to read, Anny has big dreams. So, when she is asked to run messages for the King family, she grabs the opportunity with both hands.

Margaret King is surrounded by privilege and wealth. But behind closed doors, nothing is what it seems. When Anny arrives, Margaret finds her first ally and friend. Together they plan to change their lives.

But as disaster looms over the ironworks, Margaret and Anny find themselves surrounded by secrets and betrayal. Can they hold true to each other and overcome their fate? Or are they destined to repeat the mistakes of the past?

My Review of The Daughters of Ironbridge

Anny and Margaret form an unlikely friendship across society’s boundaries.

I so enjoyed The Daughters of Ironbridge because there’s a fabulous authenticity to the era presented by Mollie Walton. Her use of dialogue, dialect and her presentation of class differences in particular, draw in the reader to a vibrant and genuine setting. Having been to Ironbridge, I could see just how much assiduous and relevant research has gone in to creating a town that lifts from the page into sharp reality. It was as if I were actually there as I read.

The plot is a cracker. It starts relatively gently with Anny and Margaret becoming friends but builds and builds, creating real tension so that I wasn’t sure quite how this story would resolve itself. I found it hugely satisfying to read. Not everything resolved itself as I anticipated (or perhaps wanted) and so I’m now hooked into the story and desperate to know what happens next in the series.

Anny is a wonderful creation and she was the one who held my affections most, because I most identified with her. Her desire to better herself and the way Mollie Walton weaves in the importance of literacy and education to Anny’s life is a universal theme that I could relate to completely. Indeed, I felt The Daughters of Ironbridge was a surprisingly feminist read with a depth I wasn’t quite expecting and the journeys of self-discovery for Anny and Margaret are as relevant to anybody today as they were to women of their era. However, I really appreciated the balance of characters too. There are positive and negative characters of both sexes so that The Daughters of Ironbridge feels well-rounded and balanced in spite of the main plot elements (about which I won’t say more. You’ll have to read the book for yourself!)

Themes of poverty and wealth, cruelty and altruism, love and brutality give layers of interest that make The Daughters of Ironbridge a smashing story. It truly does have everything a lover of the saga genre wants in a narrative.

It’s some time since I read a saga and what a perfect example of women’s saga fiction The Daughters of Ironbridge is. Mollie Walton has created a glorious world of history, society, family and friendship, love and hate that slots right in to the genre without a glitch and has reignited my interest in this type of writing. I loved the way this first book in the series ends and can’t wait to find out what happens next. Brilliant!

About Mollie Walton

becca

Mollie Walton is the saga pen-name for historical novelist Rebecca Mascull.

She has always been fascinated by history and on a trip to Shropshire, while gazing down from the iron bridge, found the inspiration for what has become her debut saga novel, part of a trilogy titled The Ironbridge Saga, published by Bonnier Zaffre.

Under the pen-name Rebecca Mascull, she is the author of three historical novels, The Visitors, Song of the Sea Maid and Wild Air.

She has also recently completed the final chapters of her friend and fellow novelist Vanessa Lafaye’s final work, a novella called Miss Marley, a prequel to Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.

Rebecca has previously worked in education, has a Masters in Writing and lives by the sea in the east of England.

You can find out more on Mollie’s website and find her on Facebook. To find out more about Mollie as Rebecca Mascull persona, you can follow Rebecca on Twitter @rebeccamascull and find her on Facebook. Visit her Rebecca Mascull website here.

The Magnificent Mrs Mayhew by Milly Johnson

Mrs Mayhew

In exactly a month’s time on 24th May the Deepings Literary Festival will be in full swing and I’ll be heading off to have fish and chips with the wonderful Milly Johnson. I’m so looking forward to meeting up with Milly again. I last chatted with her at a Simon and Schuster Spring Blogger Evening that you can read about here. With that in mind I thought today would be a perfect time to share my review of Milly’s latest book, The Magnificent Mrs Mayhew. My enormous thanks to the lovely team at EDPR for sending me a copy of the book.

Milly was kind enough to write a piece for Linda’s Book Bag when The Mother of All Christmases was released in a post available here and I have my review of another of Milly’s books, The Perfectly Imperfect Woman, here.

The Magnificent Mrs Mayhew was published by Simon and Schuster on 7th MArch 2019 and is available for purchase through these links.

The Magnificent Mrs Mayhew

Mrs Mayhew

Behind every successful man is a woman.
Behind the fall of a successful man is usually another woman.

Sophie Mayhewlooks like she has the perfect life. Wife of rising political star John F Mayhew, a man who is one step away from the top job in the government, her glamour matches his looks, power, breeding and money. But John has made some stupid mistakes along the way, some of which are threatening to emerge. Still, all this can still be swept under the carpet as long as Sophie ‘the trophy’ plays her part in front of the cameras.

But the words that come out of Sophie’s mouth one morning on the doorstep of their country house are not the words the spin doctors put in there.  Bursting out of the restrictive mould she has been in since birth, Sophie flees to a place that was special to her as a child, a small village on the coast where she intends to be alone.

But once there, she finds she becomes part of a community that warms her soul and makes her feel as if she is breathing properly for the first time. Sophie knows she won’t be left in peace for long. Now she must decide: where does her real future lie?

My Review of The Magnificent Mrs Mayhew

Politician John’s wife Sophie the Trophy is about to make a life-changing decision.

One thing guaranteed when reading a Milly Johnson book is that the reader will finish it with a contented sigh that they have enjoyed a cracking story told with warmth and humour. The Magnificent Mrs Mayhew does exactly that, especially in the ‘Pom’ parts of the story. I so enjoyed it.

I loved the plot to The Magnificent Mrs Mayhew because it took me into realms of politics and the church that I rarely inhabit in a manner that left me intrigued and interested. I cared so much about what was happening in Sophie’s life that I found myself speaking aloud to her and making some choice (and unrepeatable) comments to some of the other characters; John and Len in particular. There’s one event that happens to Sophie during John’s political Machiavellian charm offensive tactics that left me reeling. I knew that whatever the outcome of the book I would never, ever, forgive him.

And it’s this element of characterisation that makes The Magnificent Mrs Mayhew so typical of Milly Johnson’s writing. She has the ability to write fiction that seems so completely real about people who leap from the page and ensnare the reader into their lives and hearts. I was desperate for Sophie to leave behind her gilded cage and to live and breathe as she deserved.

The setting of Little Loste is glorious. The sense of community spirit, the sea, Ells Bells and all the quirky inhabitants all made me want to move there immediately. The author understands perfectly the healing power of nature. More importantly, however, Milly Johnson showed me the importance of kindness, of being true to ourselves and of genuine altruism. In fact, it’s the themes of The Magnificent Mrs Mayhew that make it such a satisfying read. Amongst other aspects woven through the narrative are love and grief, selfishness and selflessness, politics and ambition, marriage and parenthood, education and nurture, fulfillment and denial, friendship and enmity so that as well as being a highly entertaining story about Sophie on one level, I found an almost philosophical depth too. I have a feeling that reading The Magnificent Mrs Mayhew might just make me a more community spirited person.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It seemed to have a deeper resonance than other of Milly Johnson’s books I’ve read and I really feel that The Magnificent Mrs Mayhew deserves to be read several times over so that all its nuances and joys can be fully discovered. It is warm, human and captivating. The Magnificent Mrs Mayhew is a perfect read.

About Milly Johnson

milly

Milly Johnson was born, raised and still lives in Barnsley, South Yorkshire. As well as being a prolific author, she is also a copywriter for the greetings card industry, a joke-writer, a columnist, after dinner speaker, poet, BBC newspaper reviewer, and a sometimes BBC radio presenter.

She won the RoNA for Best Romantic Comedy Novel of 2014 and 2016 and the Yorkshire Society award for Arts and Culture 2015.

She writes about love, life, friendships and that little bit of the magic that sometimes crops up in real life. She likes owls, cats, meringues, handbags and literary gifts – but hates marzipan. She is very short.

You can follow Milly on Twitter @millyjohnson and Facebook.

Milly has an excellent website too where you can sign up for her brilliant monthly newsletter with exclusive, news, offers and competitions.

Dark Blossom by Neel Mullick

dark blossom

My grateful thanks to Ben at Cameron Publicity and Marketing for a copy of Dark Blossom by Neel Mullick in return for an honest review. Having loved my trip to India last year I’m delighted to be reviewing a book that gives 50% of its profits to IIMPACT, a charity that supports educational opportunities for girls from disadvantaged communities in India.

Dark Blossom was published on 14th February 2019 by Rupa and is available for purchase here.

Dark Blossom

dark blossom

Sam returns home from a business trip a day before his son’s thirteenth birthday and is looking forward to being with his family, when his world is cruelly shattered in one fell swoop.

Initially he thinks he can cope with the loss, but finally seeks the help of Cynthia, an experienced therapist, to regain his equipoise.

What he does not know is that Cynthia herself is trying to cope with a debilitating divorce and the sinister shadow of her ex-husband over her daughter…

What happens when doctor and patient find themselves in the same sinking boat? Moreover, when they are rowing in opposite directions–one clinging to the past, and the other unable to get rid of it!

In the midst of it all is Lily, Cynthia’s daughter, who harbours a secret that has the power to explode the lives around her.

Taut with tension and intensity, Dark Blossom is a glimpse of what lies under the surface of apparently ‘normal’ people.

My Review of Dark Blossom

Sam’s life is shattered and he seeks therapy from Cynthia to help him come to terms with recent events.

Well here’s a conundrum. Dark Blossom has left me totally unsure at to what I thought about it! It is an intense, intelligent book that raises more questions for me than it answers so that I have finished it feeling disturbed and unsettled. I don’t know if I can say I enjoyed the read, but I did find it utterly fascinating. Reading Dark Blossom is a bit like being in a lift with parallel mirrors that reflect an image within an image until your brain can’t cope any further.

The plot is deceptively simple, mostly revolving around Cynthia’s first person thoughts and her sessions with Sam. However, that doesn’t do the book justice as there are memories, conversations, emails and events that swirl and eddy making the reader a part of the story too as they are drawn in by Cynthia’s comments. I felt I was almost in a confessional hearing Cynthia’s story just as much as she is a counsellor listening to Sam. I found I couldn’t warm to Cynthia and reading Dark Blossom made me consider my own responses and personality as much as it made me think about the characters of Cynthia, Lily and Sam, because I felt I should have given Cynthia more sympathy.

There’s obfuscation, revelation and deception in this story making for a really thought provoking read. Themes of guilt, dissimulation, violence, relationships and redemption underpin the narrative so that I think there’s something that will resonate with every reader. I thought the iterative image of Gaudi running through was perfect (and it has had the effect of making me book a trip to Barcelona soon too). Gaudi’s work challenges and distorts reality and truth in much the same way as Neel Mullick does in Dark Blossom and I think it’s a perfect level of added texture for the book.

Despite contemplating the book for several days after having read it, I still don’t really know what I think to Dark Blossom. Never has a book floored me quite so much and I am quite perplexed. I do, however, think you should read Dark Blossom and decide for yourself!

About Neel Mullick

Neel Mullick

With degrees in software engineering from Carnegie Mellon, USA and business administration from INSEAD, France, Neel is the Head of Product and Information Security at a Belgian family-office technology company.

He mentors women entrepreneurs through the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women (UK), is involved in raising a generation of digital and socially aware leaders with the Steering for Greatness Foundation (Nigeria), and supports improvement in the quality of life of domestic workers at Emprendedoras del Hogar (Peru).

Spending his time across three continents, working with people from six, and having travelled to all seven, he firmly believes the solution to a rapidly fracturing world lies in peeling enough layers to discover the similarities, rather than judging on mere superficialities.

You can find out more about Neel by following him on Twitter @neelmullick and Instagram, visiting his website and finding him on Facebook.

Mr Todd’s Reckoning by Iain Maitland

Mr Todd

My enormous thanks to Ruth Killick Publicity for a copy of Mr Todd’s Reckoning by Iain Maitland in return for an honest review. I was thrilled to receive a copy as I thought Iain’s thriller Sweet William was sensational and you can read my review of that book here.

Mr Todd’s Reckoning will be published on 25th April by Contraband, the crime imprint of Saraband, and is available for purchase through the links here.

Mr Todd’s Reckoning

Mr Todd

Norman Bates is alive and well… He’s living just next door

Behind the normal door of a normal house, in a normal street, two men are slowly driving each other insane. One of them is a psychopath.

The father: Mr Todd is at his wits end. He’s been robbed of his job as a tax inspector and is now stuck at home… with him. Frustrated. Lonely. Angry. Really angry.

The son: Adrian has no job, no friends. He is at home all day, obsessively chopping vegetables and tap-tap-tapping on his computer. And he’s getting worse, disappearing for hours at a time, sneaking off to who-knows-where?

The unholy spirit: in the safety of suburbia, one man has developed a taste for killing. And he’ll kill again.

My Review of Mr Todd’s Reckoning

Malcolm Todd and son Adrian live in uneasy companionship.

I don’t really want to write a review of Mr Todd’s Reckoning because it is such a fabulous book I don’t think I’ll be able to do it justice.

Iain Maitland’s prose is sparse, gripping and mesmerising. The tension in Mr Todd’s Reckoning builds and builds so that I could hardly bear to glance away from the page in cased I missed a clue, a nuance, or a single superbly crafted syllable. I didn’t think Iain Maitland could surpass his debut, Sweet William, but although Mr Todd’s Reckoning is very different, it is equally as spellbinding and gripping. The plot races along with elements that surprise and shock, entertain and enthrall making for a heart thumpingly fabulous story.

Behind the compelling, dark and disturbing narrative is a brilliantly observed character in Mr Todd whose opinions and justifications are so wonderfully presented – especially with the wry humour that surfaces on occasion. Adrian too is depicted vividly with his obsessive behaviour and his run-ins with the police. Although one of these men is a psychopathic monster, both men engender understanding and pity in the reader which makes for a very interesting and somewhat disturbing read. The other more minor characters of Leon, Josie and Lily add to the atmosphere because the reader is never quite sure what the outcomes for them might be. A limited number of characters means there is a feeling of claustrophobia and menace that I felt in a visceral fashion.

The setting of an ordinary two bedroomed bungalow in suburbia is genius. Iain Maitland makes sublime use of the concept that none of us knows quite what goes on behind other people’s closed front doors so that the possibilities presented in Mr Todd’s Reckoning are quite terrifying. The stifling heat of the summer adds to the oppressive atmosphere so that the reader experiences the pressure-cooker tension with the characters.

I loved the blurring of morality, of what constitutes a crime, of the impact of nature and nurture and all the themes woven into this sparkling, mesmerising book. Mr Todd’s Reckoning is absolutely magnificent! Don’t hesitate to buy it. I thought it was amazing.

About Iain Maitland

Iain maitland

Iain Maitland is the author of Dear Michael, Love Dad (Hodder, 2016), a moving book of letters written to his son, who suffered from depression and anorexia. Iain is an ambassador for Stem4, the teenage mental health charity, and gives regular talks about mental health issues in the workplace. A writer since 1987, he is a journalist and has written more than 50 books, mainly on business, which have been published around the world.

Find Iain Maitland on Facebook, follow him on Twitter @iainmaitland and visit his website for more information.