I can safely say that since forming and leading our local Crime Fiction Fanatic Book Club, my standard of crime fiction reading has boosted. Anddd… maybe I’m becoming a little more picky and snobish about which crime fiction novels actually peak my reading interests. I believe these feelings are arising due to the variety of novels we’re choosing to read and discuss – I’m really starting to find which themes, plots and character perspectives I like to read.
‘The Night She Disappeared’ by Lisa Jewell follows three perspectives. Tallulah is a 20 year old woman, mother, social studies student and in a relationship with Zach. They share a one year old son, Noah. He is the sole reason their relationship has found new life. Tallaluh does not feel that Zach’s forceful and controlling behaviour in their relationship is something she can foresee for her long-term future.
Kim is Tallulah’s mother and we also hear from her. Tallulah, Zac and Noah are currently living with Kim and she sees them as a happy couple and family trying to make things work. Until, Tallulah and Zach go out for an evening to the local pub, leaving Noah at home with Kim, and there is no reason for them not to come home after an enjoyable dinner and a few drinks – so where are they at 1am and the next 24 hours? Kim starts to question how healthy Tallulah and Zac’s relationship actually was.
Sophie is new to the little english village where this novel is set. She is our third perspective. She’s a writer of detective novels and is currently in the process of trying to write her next book. Her and her partner have moved into temporary teacher accomodation (with some sneaky history to it, you’ll find out if the final chapter 😉). Her partner is the new head teacher of the local college that Tallulah and Zac attended, and somehow, it’s a bit like their stay was set up … When Sophie comes across a note at her back gate saying “Dig Here” she is thrown into uncovering clues connected to the disappearance of Tallulah and Zac. Things start to play out a bit to much like her own crime fiction novels … IS somebody setting her up?
I won’t be giving too much away in this review, as I know some of my book clubs members read my blog and I don’t want to sway their reading process! However, what I will say it that this definitely wasn’t one of my favourite novels we’ve read this year. I felt it lacked something for my reading tastes and I wasn’t overly ‘wow’ed’ by the ending or characters. It did have good twists and turned but now, after reading around 6 crime fiction books this year, it’s hard not to start comparing. Our meeting, as it usually does, may change my point of view. Here are a few questions I intend to provide the group:
How did you view Tallulah and Zac’s relationship?
What did you think of Sophie being a crime writer herself and how this tied into the plot?
Did you view Scarlett as a manipulative character or a product of her environment?
Tallulah’s sexuality played a major role in this book. What do you think would have happened if her relationship with Zac continued?
Arachnophobia: the extreme and intense fear of spiders. How did you predict this statement would tie in?
I want to start by saying that if you choose to pick up this book, you will have it finished in either one sitting (if you’re spending the day reading) or in a matter of days. It was fast-paced, cliff hanger at the end of every chapter and twisted just the right amount to keep you guessing – but then totally shocked by the ending. ‘The Silent Patient’ is the first book, in a long time, that I HAVE NOT seen the ending coming. This impresses me – mainly because I am knocking over a book a week at this point in my life and most consist of pretty predictable story lines. This was predictable in some ways – yes, but it also had me gasping at the final reveal of who, what, when, where and why!
Alicia Berenson has been silent for 6 years. It has been 6 years since she shot her husband, Gabriel in the face five times. What provoked her to to this? Why was he tied to a chair in their home when shot? Who influenced her decision? How has she not uttered a single word for 6 years yet been convicted of first-degree murder, referred to a mental institution and now sits in front of Theo Faber for a criminal psychotherapist session. Did she actually commit the crime?
Theo Faber has his own troubling past with relationships and is drawn to Alicia. Even more so when he discovers that his wife, Kathleen has been cheating on him with a younger, more fun version of himself. Throughout the book he follows and observes their meetings, yet never confronts either of their infidelity. In an unprofessional manner, Theo starts to dive deeper in the psychological and emotional motives behind Alicia’s silence and actions. What his finds creates a gripping, page-turning and suspicious number of suspects who have good reasoning to have thrown Alicia into the firing line.
I’m telling you, I was left reeling by this book. No joke, I sat in my reading chair just thinking, thinking, thinking. How did I miss this plot?! How did I not piece it together?! This was my Crime Fiction Fanatic Book Club pick for September and I am really looking forward to discussing it with my group. I’m making a big statement here and saying that it has been my favourite read of our book club yet!
John Byron is a debut Australian Crime Author. The Tribute was our August book for my Crime Fiction Fanatic Book Club. We were all excited and anticipating this read as it’s out first ‘serial killer’ esk type of crime fiction. The Tribute has also been shortlisted for the Victorian Premiers Literary Awards of 2021. This inaugural award recognises Australian literacy for its writing, reading and standout factor.
The Tribute surrounds seven killings taking place in modern day Sydney. Each murder is displayed as a dissection, with a specific body organ or system being focused on by the serial killer. His planned, professional and sickening murders are inspired by and recreated from the Fabrica, the 16th-century foundation text of modern European anatomy.
This multi-perspective thriller/murder mystery had be gripped at the beginning. We meet Murphy who one of the main homicide Detective’s on the case. Murphy was a challenging character to read from as his air of male dominance, feminist-hate type behaviour, coercive control in his marriage to Sylvia, and persistent alcoholism makes him quite an unlikeable voice. As I believe, John Byron has purposely done. Flipping and seeing the story from Sylvia’s perspective at times also encourages the reader to gain insight into the manipulative control, questioning and uncertainly domestic abuse can inflict on a woman. Jo, who is Murphy’s sister is also a main character. She is a well educated woman in the field of Art History and teaches at the local university. Due to her increased knowledge around the Fabrica, the State Commissioner has funded her as a resource on the serial killer case – much to Murphy’s dislike as he refused to be shown up by any woman, including his sister.
The use of the Fabrica, I have to say was extremely clever, well researched and a unique element of this novel. I throughly enjoyed how interwoven the serial killers thinking patterns, plannings and actions connected to this historical resource. Sadly, at some points I did feel that aspects of the plot were predictable. I wasn’t kept at a gripping pace or in a page-turning frenzy to get to the end of this book.
I am interested to hear the thoughts of my book club soon. Did they feel slightly let down as I did? Did the despise Murphy as much as I did? Do they think that the women of this story got the justice they deserved in the end? Were they shocked by the ending?