The Liar’s Girl by Catherine Ryan Howard

theliarsgirl

Length: 336 pages

Please note that the cover image leads to a universal Amazon buy link for the book

What they say:

Her first love confessed to five murders. But the truth was so much worse.

Dublin’s notorious Canal Killer, Will Hurley, is ten years into his life sentence when the body of a young woman is fished out of the Grand Canal. Though detectives suspect they are dealing with a copycat, they turn to Will for help. He claims he has the information the police need, but will only give it to one person – the girl he was dating when he committed his horrific crimes.

Alison Smith has spent the last decade abroad, putting her shattered life in Ireland far behind her. But when she gets a request from Dublin imploring her to help prevent another senseless murder, she is pulled back to face the past – and the man – she’s worked so hard to forget.

The Review: I had read Distress Signals (review here) and really enjoyed but I have to admit when I read the opening chapter of this I was hopping around. Because this was fully up my street, heading more into the territory of everyday psychological thriller (kinda Kathryn Crofty for anyone who read her, for those of you who are fed up of me comparing everyone to her, I’m sorry, but she’s my holy grail in psychological thrillers to date).

Our protagonist, Alison Smith, has been called back to Dublin to talk to her ex boyfriend, who is in a psychiatric hospital after admitting to the murder of female students of St John’s University, ten years ago.  With a new killer repeating history Will is saying he has information that he will only tell her. Here is a book that sends you around in circles and back again. You wonder via both Will and the detective on the scene (who actually I wouldn’t mind seeing more of) if there is any chance at all that Will could be innocent and your eyes search out every single word trying to figure out if you’re right or wrong. You also have to take into account that at the time Alison and her best friend Liz, were going through tumultuous times and we wonder why we need to know this ( I guessed why totally wrongly a number of times!!).

I loved both the detective aspect of the book-the perfection found in the expertly done ins and outs of the system (expected of course, from someone who wrote the mecca of all writing manuals, the ‘Self Printed’ spoken of here ) and also the cautionary aspects in terms of social media and student life too (a number of ‘what the frig’ moments in terms of getting information really got me). I hated/ loved following victims knowing where it was leading and wanting to help them, but being unable to (um, because it’s a book and not real life;)).

I have to admit one part that I didn’t quite need was the dark voice of the ‘baddie,’ but that’s just because in general I feel that unless they’re adding something significant to the book by showing us either an actual justification for the crime, or how they do it in a way the protagonist/ police can’t, then they’re just adding a ‘scary’ voice that isn’t necessary (this is more than likely totally me though!). The other thing was the last portion of the book which wasn’t quite for me, after the slow burn the sudden crazy drama just didn’t resonate and when I realised there was so much more to go I guessed the ending. Saying that I loved the book, the everyday, the twists, the turns, setting, marking Catherine Ryan Howard for me as a definite ‘straight onto the to be read list’ author. Thanks so much to Netgalley and Blackstone Publishing for this book in return for an honest review.

Rating: 4.5/5

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How the Bord Gáis Energy Irish Book Awards shape my reading @BGEIBAS #BGEIBA

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So if you’d seen me on twitter last year, you’d have seen me gushing about The Bord Gáis Energy Irish Book Awards, which puts everything I love together in one room for one night only and, my word do I get excited when I even think about it. So normally, this is what I do: I wait and wait and wait for the shortlist to come out. I listen even more intently to Ryan Tubridy’s show in the morning to see if he’s announced his show’s nominations and pop into Eason to see where they’re at on the whole matter. When all is announced I begin to trawl through the nominees see if there are many authors and books I know, search out the ones I don’t and begin to read. I do this so that I can make an informed decision and vote fully legally (yes I do realise how I sound), and generally I get all forms of review requests in the meantime and panic as I realise to get through them all may not be so realistic! So I’ll be honest, this years awards is full of books whose names I’ve written on pieces of paper, or who are on my Kindle. I have not read that many of them (sob). The three I have reviewed are The Things I Should Have Told You by Carmel Harrington (read my review here) , Distress Signals by Catherine Ryan Howard (I wrote about it here), and Lying in Wait by Liz Nugent (read the review here) .

Sitting on my Kindle, just ABOUT to be read is The Girl from The Savoy by Hazel Gaynor (I reviewed A Memory Of Violets and it was my number one book for 2015, read that review here) and the next book that jumps out at me, but which I shall have to go hunting for in paperback is  Dictatorship: My Teenage War With OCD – Rebecca Ryan (On Stream Publications Ltd)- I heard the interview with this author, who’s is quite young, (or at least much younger than me!) on Ryan Tubridy and she BLEW ME AWAY. These are followed closely by The Book of Shadows by ERMurray, Lyrebird by Cecilia Ahern, The Last Days of Summer by Vanessa Ronan and I generally read Marian Keyes at Christmas for my ‘I’ll sit here and read for as long as I want to, dammit!’ time;). After that I know I’ve to get going on Graham Norton‘s book, Holding because, not only have people been raving about it, but also it’s a tale set in a little Irish village, and I have to read all such books in a quest to see if mine is way off the rest of the author population’s! As well as that it’s a sin not to have read the Maggie O’Farrell book , and I really want to read ‘Fat Chance’ by Louise MacSharry. Then I’m a bad reviewer because I haven’t read Solar Bones by Mike McCormack, which sounds AMAZING and I’ve The Wonder by Emma Donoghue to read as a result of a book group I’m in. Now, moving along, since I’ve seen Claire Hennessy speak and can’t wait to read Nothing Tastes As Good , well that’s in there too, plus to be Irish and not to have read Donal Ryan’s All We Shall Know beggars belief (plus I heard him speaking on the radio when he got his first book deal and I’ve meant to read his books since then!) so, um, yes. In the kiddies section I’m definitely going to get ‘Goodnight Everyone’ by  Chris Haughton and Historopedia by Fatti and John Burke, which I was looking at today in Eason and is perfection for the kiddies! I adore all cookbooks so, yes, need to get looking into them too! So, there you go. This is what happens every year, and to be honest, the books I have listed are only the ones that I previously said I really had to get going on, I have to wade through the rest too!

Anyhoo, this post is gone a bit nuts, the reason I was posting was actually to let you know that, thanks to the amazing people at Evoke.ie , I’ll be there!!!! At the awards! Yes, this is a huge, huge, huge thing for me. I will be  sitting in the green room alongside my best friend and fellow writer and blogger Deirdre Reidy from https://countingtheminutestilbedtime.com/ and I’ll tell you now, I can’t wait! Will fill you in on social media where I can, and will blog about it after, but for now, here’s the shortlist, taken from the Irish Bord Gais Energy Ireland Book Award website. I hope you enjoy going through the titles as much as I have, and find something you didn’t know existed:)

Eason Novel of the Year

All We Shall Know – Donal Ryan (Doubleday Ireland)

Days Without End – Sebastian Barry (Faber & Faber)

Solar Bones – Mike McCormack (Tramp Press)

The Lesser Bohemians – Eimear McBride (Faber & Faber)

The Wonder – Emma Donoghue (Pan Macmillan/Picador)

This Must Be The Place – Maggie O’Farrell (Tinder Press)

The Journal.ie Best Irish published Book of the Year

All Through the Night – Edited by Marie Heaney (Poetry Ireland)

Dublin since 1922 – Tim Carey (Hachette Books Ireland)

Looking Back: The Changing Faces of Ireland – Eric Luke (The O’Brien Press)

Modern Ireland in 100 Artworks – Edited by Fintan O’Toole (Royal Irish Academy)

The Invisible Art: A Century of Music in Ireland 1916-2016 – Michael Dervan (New Island Books)

The Glass Shore – Sinéad Gleeson (New Island Books)

Sunday Independent Newcomer of the Year

Himself – Jess Kidd (Canongate Books)

Red Dirt – EM Reapy (Head of Zeus)

The Last Days of Summer – Vanessa Ronan (Penguin Ireland)

The Maker of Swans – Paraic O’Donnell (Weidenfeld & Nicolson)

The Things I Should Have Told You – Carmel Harrington (HarperCollins)

This Living and Immortal Thing – Austin Duffy (Granta Books)

National Book Tokens Nonfiction Book of the Year

I Read The News Today, Oh Boy – Paul Howard (Picador)

Ireland The Autobiography – John Bowman (Penguin Ireland)

The Hurley Maker’s Son – Patrick Deeley (Doubleday Ireland)

The Supreme Court – Ruadhán Mac Cormaic (Penguin Ireland)

Time Pieces: A Dublin Memoir – John Banville & Paul Joyce (Hachette Books Ireland)

When Ideas Matter – Michael D Higgins (Head of Zeus)

RTE Radio One Ryan Tubridy Show Listener’s Choice

Lying In Wait – Liz Nugent (Penguin Ireland)

Conclave – Robert Harris (Hutchinson)

Dictatorship: My Teenage War With OCD – Rebecca Ryan (On Stream Publications Ltd)

All Through the Night – Edited by Marie Heaney (Poetry Ireland)

All We Shall Know – Donal Ryan (Transworld Ireland)

Victim Without A Face – Stefan Ahnhem (Head of Zeus)

Listowel Writers’ Week Poem of the Year

In Glasnevin – Jane Clarke (From: The Irish Times)

Patagonia – Emma McKervey (From: The Compass Magazine)

Suppose I Lost – Andrew Soye (From: Abridged Magazine)

Love / Hotel / Love – Michael Naghtan Shanks (From: Poetry Ireland Review)

Specsavers Children’s Book of the Year (Junior)

A Child of Books – Sam Winston and Oliver Jeffers (Walker Books)

Goodnight Everyone – Chris Haughton (Walker Books)

Historopedia – Fatti and John Burke (Gill Books)

Pigín of Howth – Kathleen Watkins (Gill Books)

Rabbit and Bear: Rabbit’s Bad Habits – Julian Gough & Jim Field (Hachette Children’s Group)

Rover and the Big Fat Baby – Roddy Doyle (Pan Macmillan)

Specsavers Children’s Book of the Year (Senior)

Knights of the Borrowed Dark – Dave Rudden (Puffin)

The Book of Shadows – E.R. Murray (Mercier Press)

The Making of Mollie – Anna Carey (The O’Brien Press)

Needlework – Deirdre Sullivan (Little Island Books)

Nothing Tastes As Good – Claire Hennessy (Hot Key Books)

Flawed – Cecelia Ahern (HarperCollins Children’s Books)

Avonmore Cookbook of the Year

Recipes For A Nervous Breakdown – Sophie White (Gill Books)

The World of The Happy Pear – Stephen and David Flynn (Penguin Ireland)

Natural Born Feeder – Roz Purcell (Gill Books)

The Little Green Spoon – Indy Power (Ebury Press)

Neven Maguire’s Complete Family Cookbook – Neven Maguire (Gill Books)

The Brother Hubbard – Garrett Fitzgerald (Gill Books)

Irish Independent Popular Fiction Book of the Year

Game of Throw-Ins – Ross O’Carroll-Kelly (Penguin Ireland)

Lyrebird – Cecelia Ahern (HarperCollins)

Rebel Sisters – Marita Conlon-McKenna (Transworld Ireland)

The Girl From The Savoy – Hazel Gaynor (HarperCollins)

The Privileged – Emily Hourican (Hachette Books Ireland)

Holding – Graham Norton (Hodder & Stoughton)

Ireland AM Popular Nonfiction Book of the Year

Adventures of a Wonky-Eyed Boy – Jason Byrne (Gill Books)

Fat Chance – Louise McSharry (Penguin Ireland)

Making It Up As I Go Along – Marian Keyes (Michael Joseph)

Pippa – Pippa O’Connor (Penguin Ireland)

Talking to Strangers – Michael Harding (Hachette Books Ireland)

Mr. Pussy: Before I Forget to Remember – Alan Amsby/David Kenny (New Island Books)

Bord Gáis Energy Sports Book of the Year

Blood, Sweat & McAteer – Jason McAteer (Hachette Books Ireland)

Coolmore Stud, Ireland’s Greatest Sporting Success Story – Alan Conway (Mercier Press)

My Life in Rugby – Donal Lenihan (Transworld Ireland)

Out of Control – Cathal Mc Carron (Simon & Schuster)

The Battle – Paul O’Connell (Penguin Ireland)

Win or Learn – John Kavanagh (Penguin Ireland)

Writing.ie Short Story of the Year

Here We Are – Lucy Caldwell (Faber&Faber)

K-K-K – Lauren Foley (Ol Society – Australia)

The Visit – Orla McAlinden (Sowilo Press)

Green Amber Red – Jane Casey (New Island)

The Birds of June – John Connell (Granta Magazine)

What a River Remembers of its Course – Gerard Beirne (Numero Cinq Magazine)

Crime Fiction Award

Distress Signals – Catherine Ryan Howard (Atlantic Books (Corvus)

Little Bones – Sam Blake (Bonnier Zaffre)

Lying In Wait – Liz Nugent (Penguin Ireland)

The Constant Soldier – William Ryan (Mantle)

The Drowning Child – Alex Barclay (HarperCollins)

The Trespasser – Tana French (Hachette Ireland)

Distress Signals by Catherine Ryan Howard

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What they say: Did she leave, or was she taken?

The day Adam Dunne’s girlfriend, Sarah, fails to return from a Barcelona business trip, his perfect life begins to fall apart. Days later, the arrival of her passport and a note that reads ‘I’m sorry – S’ sets off real alarm bells. He vows to do whatever it takes to find her.

Adam is puzzled when he connects Sarah to a cruise ship called the Celebrate – and to a woman, Estelle, who disappeared from the same ship in eerily similar circumstances almost exactly a year before. To get the answers, Adam must confront some difficult truths about his relationship with Sarah. He must do things of which he never thought himself capable. And he must try to outwit a predator who seems to have found the perfect hunting ground…

NOTE: As always the top picture leads to  a universal buy link for the book (author image leads to author’s website).

The Review:You’ll probably remember (or maybe not) that I made a big leap and decided I was going to properly get back into writing with a world of good intentions (only now beginning to be fulfilled) and I raved about my Holy Trinity of writing books  which contained (among others) Catherine Ryan Howard’s how-to self publish guide, Self Printed . I’m not going to go on and on here about the fact that when I self published I did it step by step with my husband, going solely on everything said book told me to do and that at one point my tech-savvy hubby  exclaimed ‘We’d be properly (insert curse here) if we didn’t have this book, wouldn’t we?’ Because this isn’t about Self Printed. It’s about Distress Signals.

The premise of this book is perfection. It’s essentially that, out in the sea, the law is sketchy around jurisdiction, so in terms of who can investigate a crime, there are limited options and resources creating a crime free for all, if you will.
I received the book with the genius pack you see above (how great is the ‘do not disturb’ sign?) which included a post-it that said simply ‘I’m sorry-S’ as Adam Dunne, the lead character, did, and (after trying to figure out for some time if they’d sent me the book late and someone whose name began with the letter ‘S’ was responsible-I know, I know(!)), I began.

As you can see above, Adam is investigating the disappearance of his girlfriend Sarah.His deductions have led him onto a cruise ship, the Celebrate, much to his confusion. I loved Adam as a character, his personality and his tenacity. The fact that  he was a scriptwriter and so we got a bit of writerly background didn’t hurt!

In terms of the story itself I really liked the mix of dead ends, helpful (and unhelpful) characters, but also the many open doors which I felt were present largely due to the fact that Alan was a civilian, without the constraints and bureaucracy which generally accompany crime stories that follow somebody from the law enforcement arena. The descriptions were commendable, in fact most of the book played out as a movie in my head, and I’m sure I was as in awe of the majesty of the cruise liner as he was! The pacing was brilliant, my eyes devoured each and every word and yet the pages turned swiftly in my fingers. The characters played their parts well and came to life before my very eyes.

The only things that niggled a tiny bit with me, was that a few times in the book we were reminded of something that had happened before, which was fine, but this would be in a very obvious way, and also a few deductions were hammered home, where I felt they could have been more subtle and we’d still have got it. The other thing that I was unsure of, is the story that ran with Adam’s, which is that of Romain.

Romain’s story was one of cruelty and isolation, and could become fairly uncomfortable in parts. I’m warning you of this because I do feel that some people might be bothered by it. It’s not that it’s in anyway gruesome or graphic, it’s definitely neither of those things, it’s more that it’s a story that might stay around in your head for a little while. I found it funny that one of the book’s recommendations on the cover came from Liz Nugent, from ‘Unravelling Oliver’ (which I adored!) fame, because Romain’s story stuck with me the way Oliver’s did, with a mish-mash of why questions and  ‘if only X hadn’t happened’ swimming around in my head. The darkness of this story contrasted hugely with the rest of the book which, although thrilling and dramatic, still stayed relatively light for me.
All in all the a great book. The ups, downs, twists and turns were brilliant and I was a step behind most of the way which made it both a satisfying read and conclusion. I’ll tell you I was praying this would be a goodie and I wasn’t disappointed. Very much recommended. Thanks to the author and Corvus/ Atlantic for this book in return for an honest review and apologies in advance for the lengthy post(!).
Rating:4.5/5

The Author: Catherine Ryan Howard

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