Emily Klein doesn’t know her husband Greg is dead until the day of the funeral. From her hospital bed, she doesn’t yet know that she killed him. Once home and beginning to recover from the dreadful car crash, she sees her husband at a distance, in coffee shops, around town and in his car, yet when she gets home the car is on the drive.
Posts appear on his Facebook account and she begins to get text messages from him, it can only be him as he’s the only one who called her Alice when her name is Emily. She thinks she’s losing her mind and the reader is reminded of her past when she was in a mental institution after killing her father.
The book switches back to her childhood home with her sister and their abusive father. We get an idea of Emily’s mental state and the reason behind her spell in a mental institution. Emily’s sister is key throughout the story giving support when she’s just lost her husband. Most of the story is in present day, just a few switches to childhood as memories resurface.
Emily’s friends are all under suspicion of imitating Greg and she doesn’t know who to trust or believe. There are several twists and jaw-drops before all lies are revealed and unravelled at the end.
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Rosie and Ruby was first published under the title Three Mothers, (Trois Meres) and was Patricia Dixon’s second novel. Her writing and storytelling in this book is flowing and confident, not afraid to tell it how it is.
Briefly, this is the story of cousins Rosie and Ruby, starting with their childhood and teenage years living in Manchester with their parents. Both have equally awful mothers in different ways, and both girls, and later young women, come to terms with and overcome the mental scars that haunt them for years. Rosie follows her dream of being a hotelier and ends up in France, while Ruby marries her wealthy whirlwind heart throb who turns out to be a violent and vicious monster. I don’t want to give the whole story away so won’t go any further with that.
There were tense and, at times, quite viciously nasty parts in this book and I can see that a more sinister genre was waiting to escape – Over My Shoulder by the same author.
Patricia Dixon writes fluidly and interestingly and never leaves any loose ends. When a new character comes on the scene she gives a concise and engrossing outline of who they are and what sort of personality they have.
Whose books are hers similar to? Well, the Manchester element reminded me of Mandasue Heller but her warmth and friendship within the story is much like Patricia Scanlan or Maeve Binchy – lovely fulfilling stories. I have read all Patricia’s books and the warmth, emotions and characters never fail to give me a fuzzy loved feeling.
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Death’s Dark Veil opens with someone on their death-bed being taunted and observed by ghostly figures. She knows who they are and knows they have come to escort her to the next world, but their descriptions are terrifying and I wondered if she could ever rest in peace.
The first chapters introduce two very different characters, Georgie and Ivy, and these two young girls create the theatre for a very dark and dangerous show. Each has a tragic start to their adult lives but grow into strong and capable young women. We follow them individually to the time their lives collide at Tenley House, the Gothic towering home of first Daphne and Kenneth, then Georgie and Kenneth, as well as a dreadful old bat mother-in-law, Phyllis. Evil is all around, too many deaths for comfort (and coincidence), so who is behind these suspicious deaths?
Well written in a dark and menacing way with a good amount of humour to keep things light – the nick-name for curmudgeonly Phyllis, (Syphilis) had me howling. There are gasp out loud moments at tragedies and deaths, and there is a great twist at the end. I certainly didn’t guess the outcome and I loved the ending.
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The Bad Mother is a rather chilling tale of expectations and realities of becoming a new mother. Lucy is expecting her first baby but rather than all the excitement of buying all the baby things and decorating its room, Lucy is worrying about lapses in her memory, a complete loss of confidence and her capabilities of looking after a new baby. Lucy’s mother puts it down to ‘baby brain’ and hormones but her husband isn’t so sure it’s as simple as hormones, he’s convinced it is a mental problem which she may have inherited from her father.
For a good way through the book I was trying to convince myself that all Lucy’s problems were down to her husband, Adam – well, the blurb on the cover tells us this – but thought that was too simple and that there must be a twist. I disliked Adam as a character from early on. He comes over as a whiny, spoilt, petulant person who likes to get his own way.
After Lucy and Adam’s little girl is born, things don’t get any better and Lucy is convinced that she is a danger to her baby and incapable of keeping her safe and cared for. The story moves at a reasonable pace and finally comes to a head in a breathtaking way.
This was a well written book touching on many issues but I didn’t find it a page-turner, it should have been shorter instead of reiterating the same things. I would have liked to have known what made Adam tick. His upbringing was similar to many children but they don’t all act like him, just what clicked in his brain to make him so selfish and duplicitous. Equally, why did Lucy so quickly and easily change from being a strong, confident, working woman with many friends into a whimpering wet lettuce.
Helena is a confident and successful business woman heading her own department in an international make-up company. Then Ashley is interviewed and taken on and everything goes out of kilter.
The story is told in a present day and back a year or so style, and although I felt that sometimes the timeline wasn’t quite clear (only realising we’d gone back/forward after a paragraph or two,) it worked well to show how quickly Ashley was taking over and Helena was spiralling down with pregnancy, childbirth and depression.
Both main female characters had their faults, pushy, deceptive, unfaithful etc., and the author making them both unlikeable at times made them feel realistic, more true to life, just a bad combination when they got together.
I thought the book was well written and well plotted, it had a couple of unexpected twists at the end and I enjoyed it very much.
Rachel suspects her husband is having an affair after finding messages on a Twitter account which has been left open on her laptop. She goes to the hotel she believes he is meeting someone, only to see her husband’s car hitting a pedestrian and driving away from the scene of the crime.
Meanwhile, Rachel’s friend and business partner Suzie, is having an embarrassing time at the bank after finding that her bank cards don’t work. Her account has been suspended because of her massive unauthorised overdraft with the threat of her flat being called in as security. Suzie, of course, knows
nothing of the debt.
Two very gripping and interesting storylines from the very start and the tension just keeps building.
The police question Rachel and her husband about the hit and run, and Suzie is trying to piece together what the missing money has to do with her missing boyfriend. This very quickly becomes one of the most gripping and suspenseful books I’ve read. There is an intense feeling of the runaway train having left the track and is heading towards disaster with nothing anyone can do to stop it.
Very well written, fabulous characters and nails bitten to the quick!
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This is a dark and addictive story of how lovely Freya becomes manipulated and controlled by Kane. Freya’s character is portrayed to be a normal working young woman of the 1990s. She has a very real personality, the sort of girl we could have worked with and from a family we could know of. She meets Kane whilst at work and quickly becomes quite besotted by him, even though she has a steady boyfriend. From the start, Kane is a manipulator and engineers meetings with Freya until their relationship takes off, just as he had planned it. Kane is a complex character and is a truly nasty piece of work. Kane has a beautiful and kind young woman by his side, but his cruel side surfaces when least expected, and as Freya becomes more isolated from her friends and family, her traumatic life becomes insufferable.
Much of the early and middle part of the book is set in 1990s Manchester and and shows a reflection of how times have changed in such a short time; the lack of technology, few mobile phones and attitudes of the police. Later, we move forward to the present day to conclude the story in a nail bitingly tense final few chapters. It is truly a gripping and shocking story from start to finish and just shows how easy it is to fall in with the wrong people.
Patricia Dixon writes in a very relaxed and northern style and her characters are totally believable. This book covers a lot of issues which might shock some readers, so be warned there is some violence and domestic abuse. Patricia Dixon has written sympathetically and emotionally about some very difficult issues and I think she’s done a great job of giving realism to a fictional story. This is her first psychological suspense novel and I do hope she writes more in this genre.
I was asked to be an early reader of this book and feel very privileged to have seen the story grow and change. Fourteen months after the first spark of an idea, several edits, a cut of around 50 pages, and a few tears along the way, Patricia now has a very gripping, tight plot which I feel rivals the ‘Behind Closed Doors’ style psychological books. Very well worth reading and there’s even a cameo of me in the final chapters!
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