Friday Book Reviews – Red Ribbons and The Doll’s House

I enjoy reading crime novels and thrillers – nothing too bloodthirsty but I love the Whodunnit, if people are murdered they tend to be unknowns or characters we don’t know that well so we’re not too upset, I particularly enjoy crime novels in a series which shows the personality of the main detective, such as the Harry Hole series by Jo Nesbo – I really enjoyed each and every one of them.

There are nearly anarchy on twitter the other night when the four part series of Amber ended. Telling the story of a young Dublin 14 year old who mysteriously disappeared, it ended on Wednesday night with a flashback to the young Amber getting off the Luas and walking up a country road that looked more at home in rural Crettyard than just beside the Luas in Dublin. There had been many suspects offered up to us over the four nights and many people debated them using the #amber hashtag on twitter – Was it the prisoner who committed suicide? The guy who stole her phone? The young guy she had been chatting with and her friend seemed to know? Her dad’s business partner? The chinese guy’s boss? Her mum’s boyfriend who suddenly appears in the fourth episode? The guy in the white van at the end? ?We knew she was dead – there were way too many water images plus shots of empty swinging swings to presume anything else but how was she killed and by whom? ?According to the producer being interviewed on Tubridy 2FM the next morning, she wasn’t murdered by any of the other characters. They deliberately left it open, to emphasise that so many families of missing persons are left with that uncertainty and turmoil.

However, ?I think the viewers could appreciate the turmoil of the parents and other relatives – we all signed up to experience that turmoil, that wondering, the mystery for the 4 hours. What we wanted was a resolution to that in the final 5 minutes. It felt as though none of the possibilities offered were considered strong enough by the producers so they did a cop out and left it open ended. Now, that isn’t what happened, it was a deliberate ploy apparently to leave it open-ended. Apparently, when some people thought about it, they decided that it was a good ending but I felt it wasn’t a gripping enough programme to leave me feeling satisfied with having spent 4 hours watching it.

Me in #AmberOne thing that did amuse me (and I’m not sure why they chose this magazine as I presume it was filmed relatively recently) but a character was flicking through a magazine and a couple of eagle-eyed viewers took an image and tweeted it to me – yes, the character was flicking through a Women Mean Business magazine and this page showing three Carlow women, including me, was shown! Fame! Yes, that’s me on the top right of the page!

Onto the book reviews. I read two crime books by Irish author Louise Phillips over the new year and thoroughly enjoyed both of them – yes, the murderer was revealed at the end of each novel!

Red Ribbons is the first novel. Somewhat differently from other crime novels that I have read, the main character / perspective is not from the main detective, the detective who is honourable and passionate about solving crime, who fights against corruption on the streets and in the force, who is usually male, who is divorced, struggles with alcohol, smokes, has on-off relationships with beautiful women. That character is in these novels but as a secondary character. We read the novel through the perspective of Dr. Kate Pearson, a profiler whom the police call in to help them solve the crimes and this in itself, makes it interesting too.

Red RibbonsI enjoyed Red Ribbons, it tells the story of murdered schoolgirls who have been buried with red ribbons in their hair, hands clasped together in prayer, lying as if praying. What is their connection to the young mother Ellie Brady who was institutionalised 15 years previously for the murder of her daughter? The chapters move from Kate’s perspective to Ellie’s to the murderer. The latter was what I didn’t enjoy so much, this is just my personal opinion but I prefer to try and work out who the murderer is rather than just waiting to see if he will be caught before he kills again. ?It did make it more disturbing though in that you can read what the murderer is thinking, his background, his childhood, his plans …. something akin to The Fall series earlier last year where the murderer was psychotic. I just prefer the whodunnit aspect.

I loved The ?Doll’s House – equally chilling and gripping without being over the top. It contains the same main characters of Dr. Kate Pearson and those in the police force. ?Once again, the chapters alter from the perspective of one character to another – from Kate trying to solve the murders, to Clodagh who is visiting a hypnotherapist to discover mysteries about her childhood which shed light on events, to the murderer. The difference is we don’t know who the murderer is ?- is it Clodagh’s brother, is it her husband, is it someone else? ?Like in Red Ribbons – the solving of these crimes means that an old crime is revealed and investigated too. ?The inclusion of the dolls and the doll’s house was a bit creepy at times even though they were just used as a device in revealing the past to Clodagh but it made her seem more disturbed which I guess was the point. This is a great page turner and I read it in two long sittings – loved every page. I thought the method of using hypnotherapy to shed light on a past was very clever and extremely effective.

If you particularly love crime series which have the same detective and profiler continuing through the novels, then I would really recommend these. The good news too is that Louise is working on a third novel, another one with Kate Pearson. I’m looking forward to it already.

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