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

Advertisement

Distress Signals by Catherine Ryan Howard

 DistressSignalspack

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

cathryanhow.png

Catherine Ryan Howard’s website

Catherine on Twitter @cathryanhoward

Catherine on Facebook

Catherine on Instagram