Taut, tense thriller set in the Faroe Islands

In the gripping first pages of this taut thriller by Craig Robertson which is set in the Faroe Islands, we find John Callum lying on a stone slab on Torshavn’s harbour, unable to remember how he got there.

Callum, who is in Faroe Islands to escape from an incident in his past, is a former teacher from Glasgow haunted by terrifying, violent dreams about an incident involving one of his former pupils.

The nightmares together with Callum’s guilt about the past and his fear that he might be the killer or know who the killer is keep the reader guessing to the very end of this tense thriller.

When Callum finds work with a local fisherman, Martin Hojgaard, he determines to put the past behind him but before long he makes some dangerous enemies among the locals and when a murder is committed, he’s the main suspect.

But is Callum guilty? And, if he isn’t, who is the killer?

Violence is never far from the surface in The Last Refuge and Robertson keeps the reader guessing to the end. A strong plot, believable characters, some good dialogue and the beautifully evoked Faroe Islands landscape combine to make The Last Refuge a satisfying read.

The Last Refuge by Craig Robertson is published by Simon & Schuster in the UK. ISBN 9781471127731 An Advance Readers Copy (ARC) was provided via Netgalley.com for the purpose of this review.

Psychological thriller about a mother determined to uncover her daughter’s secret

The Accident by CL Taylor is a psychological thriller about an emotionally unstable mother determined to find out why her daughter deliberately stepped in front of a bus.

Charlotte, the teenage daughter, is in a coma and Sue believes that finding the truth behind the accident may help her daughter’s recovery.

Parallel to Sue’s quest for answers runs the story of an abusive relationship in her own past that has left her living in fear of her former lover, James Evans.

While it is clear that past and present are somehow connected, the full picture emerges only at the very end.

While not without flaws, and stronger on plot than on character, The Accident is a quick read with plenty of suspense making for an interesting, if at times implausible, story.

Sue’s past which includes ‘episodes’ of psychological instability make her an interesting unreliable narrator and add to the suspense of the novel. A little less emphasis on her sexual history and a bit more attention to other aspects of her character might have made her a more fully-rounded and sympathetic protagonist which, in my opinion, would have strengthened this novel.

The Accident by C L Taylor is published by HarperCollins UK / Avon. An Advance Readers Copy (ARC) was provided via Netgalley.com for the purpose of this review.

PS. If you like this, you might also be interested in Mother, Mother by Koran Zailckas.

James Patterson thriller may appeal to movie buffs

Mistress is the first book James Patterson that I’ve read. I chose it because it featured on the bestselling fiction lists and I was looking forward to being engrossed in a good thriller.

Mistress got off to a good start and it’s certainly action packed — surprising me in virtually every chapter — for the first fifty pages or so.

Ben, the main character is a well-heeled journalist with a troubled history that dates from his mother’s murder when he was a young boy. He finds himself embroiled in a frightening and dangerous world as he seeks to find out what happened to his former girlfriend, Diana Hotchkiss.

Ben’s interior monologue is full of references to US presidents and action movies that may entertain readers who share his interests. For me at least, they became somewhat tedious as the novel progressed and I’d have liked to have seen a bit more depth in the characters.

Ben’s investigation is complicated and action-packed and quite visual at times, which might lend itself to exciting screening, but I couldn’t help feeling that here was an idea for a really good story that somehow got a little lost in the telling.