I’m back at it again with the mini reviews. This time for a book I’ve seen receiving rave reviews – The Serial Killer’s Daughter – and a book I couldn’t pass up when I visited the library – The Silence Between Breaths. Let’s see how I got on with both books…
The Serial Killer’s Daughter by Lesley Welsh
Charmer, liar, father… Killer.
Suzanne’s life changes forever the day she receives a visit from Rose Anderson, the woman who has been living with her estranged father, Don.
Don is dead, but Rose wants Suzanne to have his possessions – including a series of intimate diaries and a mysterious collection of photographs of women.
To Suzanne’s shock, one of the photos is of her friend Sophie, who died ten years ago in an unexplained and devastating fire.
But Don only met Sophie once, on an unsettling visit he paid Suzanne just days before Sophie’s death… So why did he have a picture of her?
Unable to let Sophie’s memory alone, Suzanne begins to dig into her father’s life. What horrors is she about to unearth in his journals? And who is it that’s out there, watching her every move?
The reviews surfacing for this book had me so excited to read it, I had such high hopes but sadly, this turned out to be another ‘run-of-mill’ psychological thriller.
Usually I love an insight into the mind of a serial killer but here I did not enjoy reading the killer’s journal articles that featured in this novel. It felt too much like the entries were written to repulse [which they certainly did], rather than to add to the plot. Usually I look for the logic the serial killer uses to justify their actions but here I found none, except this man was just evil and killing for kicks. And if you read this story, you can fathom this information without needing the diary entries.
It didn’t help that I didn’t like any of the characters, and this, I believe, is a story where you need a connection to the main protagonist. There were certain times when the actions of the characters frustrated me, for example, if you’re in danger or believe you’re in danger or have previously been in danger – for goodness sake – lock your doors!
I read a lot of psychological thrillers, so maybe this was a case of ‘too much of the same’ – the title of the book takes away all of the mystery so perhaps a different title was needed or some unreliable narration to deter the reader away from knowing exactly where the plot was going and who was responsible for certain actions. I’ve read a few novels where the plot/certain information is purposely given away at the start of the book and sometimes this works really well but in this one, knowing what to expected diluted the plot twist and caused a lack of tension, suspense and thrill. Sadly, The Serial Killer’s Daughter was a miss for me.
*My thanks to the publisher (Bookouture) for granting me access to a digital copy of this book via Netgalley*
The Silence Between Breaths by Cath Staincliffe
From the inside cover:
Passengers boarding the 10.35 train from Manchester Piccadilly to London Euston are bound for work, assignations, reunions, holidays or new starts, with no idea that their journey is about to be brutally curtailed.
Holly has just landed her dream job, which should make life a lot easier than it has been, and Jeff is heading for his first ever work interview after months of unemployment. They end up sitting next to each other. Onboard customer service assistant Naz dreams of better things as he collects rubbish from the passengers. And among the others travelling are Nick with his young family who are driving him crazy; pensioner Meg and her partner setting off on a walking holiday and facing an uncertain future; Caroline, run ragged by the competing demands of her stroppy teenage children and her demented mother; and Rhona, unhappy at work and desperate to get home to her small daughter.
And in the middle of the carriage sits Saheel, carrying a deadly rucksack . . .
This book had been on my radar for ages. I was so intrigued by its premise; a story that takes place in one day, mainly in one location – a character driven story that plays out a situation we’d all be terrified to be in but sadly, a very real and possible situation. While I liked that this story touched on a very real subject, this book didn’t capture my attention the way I hoped it would. And this was because the book opens with an introduction to the characters on the train, narrated from multiple viewpoints, we learn about their lives and how they came to be on the train. My issue was simple, I found the characters boring – I understand Staincliffe portraying them as ordinary people and these are exactly the people likely to be on the train but it was all too ‘plain Jane’ for my liking. By the time the tempo of the book picked up, I wasn’t invested in the aftermath.
This is a fictional book and I found it read too ‘academic’ for my liking; yet as a character study, it didn’t go deep enough, as a character-driven novel, the characters weren’t interesting enough. I can see why so many people liked this book but for me it fell short. The anticipation, the tension, and most importantly, the emotion were all missing for me.
I was most interested in the subplot, featuring Saheel’s family, mainly his sister, and how things affected them but a subplot cannot carry a book so unfortunately, The Silence Between Breaths was a miss for me.