#TuesdayBookBlog ‘Something in the Water’ by Catherine Steadman #Amreading #Bookreviews #Thriller

Today I’m reviewing Something in the Water by Catherine Steadman.

Blurb

If you could make one simple choice that would change your life forever, would you?

Erin is a documentary filmmaker on the brink of a professional breakthrough, Mark a handsome investment banker with big plans. Passionately in love, they embark on a dream honeymoon to the tropical island of Bora Bora, where they enjoy the sun, the sand, and each other. Then, while scuba diving in the crystal blue sea, they find something in the water. . . .

Could the life of your dreams be the stuff of nightmares?

Suddenly the newlyweds must make a dangerous choice: to speak out or to protect their secret. After all, if no one else knows, who would be hurt? Their decision will trigger a devastating chain of events.

Have you ever wondered how long it takes to dig a grave?

Wonder no longer. Catherine Steadman’s enthralling voice shines throughout this spellbinding debut novel. With piercing insight and fascinating twists, Something in the Water challenges the reader to confront the hopes we desperately cling to, the ideals we’re tempted to abandon, and the perfect lies we tell ourselves.

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My Review

Something In the Water is an absolutely brilliant crime thriller set in the UK.

The novel is narrated in first person by Erin, a documentary film maker. The first chapter is a shocking scene of Erin burying someone in the woods, and then the narrative goes back three months to Mark and Erin’s anniversary and moves forward gradually to the present time.

The first part of the novel is a slow burn, as we find out how the couple met, over five years earlier, and what their first years together were like as a happy young, professional couple working hard, making money and enjoying life.

The novel picks up a faster pace when they decide to get married, shortly after Mark, who works in banking, loses his job, and they go on honeymoon to Bora Bora, where they accidentally become involved in international crime.

The rest of the novel rushes full speed ahead as Erin tells us how their lives are turned upside down and their relationship deteriorates as a result.

The ending, where matters escalate, is unexpected and disastrous. I felt as devastated as Erin by the outcome of their dilemma, and yet she was lucky enough to have friends in the right places, so the disaster was not as bad as it could have been, for her.

There is a hopeful, but open ending, which was a great way to round off the novel. I’m even tempted to imagine there may be a sequel…

I listened to the audio book, and the fact that the author, Catherine Steadman, who is also a fabulous actress, is the narrator was an added bonus.

Something in the Water is an enthralling read, at the beach, at the pool, at home, on the train, or wherever you  happen to be this summer.

Lovers of suspenseful crime thrillers will not be disappointed.

I’m impatiently looking forward to Catherine Steadman’s next novel.

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Something in the Water was published by Ballantine Books in June 2018, and it’s already on the bestseller lists.
Find out more and check out other reviews on Amazon UK and Amazon US.

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About Catherine Steadman

Catherine Steadman is an actress and writer based in North London, UK. She is best known for her role as Mabel Lane Fox in Downton Abbey and is currently filming on the new Starz television series ‘The Rook’. She grew up in the New Forest, UK, and lives with a small dog and an average sized man. Something in the Water is her first novel.

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Betrayal by @MartinaCole #BookReview #TuesdayBookBlog #amreviewing #crime

I spotted Betrayal, last month while in the UK, in the WH Smith Bestsellers shelf. I liked the cover and the blurb, so I decided to buy a copy. I had never read any books by Martina Cole, and I really didn’t know what to expect, other than a crime thriller with some romance.

In fact, I was surprised because Betrayal was a very hard book for me to review. The theme, setting and characters were challenging. I can’t say I enjoyed it, because it was both an emotional as well as a disturbing experience, although the violence and crime is rarely graphic and never gratuitous. Overall, I’m glad I read it.

I was lucky enough to read Betrayal on holiday, by the beach!

My first and main challenge was that I didn’t like or feel any type of affinity to any of the characters, at all. Although it takes place mostly in and around areas of London, such as Brixton, which I am familiar with, the events and characters were so removed from my own experiences or even comfort zone  that they could have happened on another planet.

On the other hand, the author does a great job of presenting and building disquieting and troublesome characters in such a way that the reader feels empathy, and I could almost, and it’s a big almost, sympathise with them, at times.

It was a bit like a simplified version of The Godfather in a London council estate. We are introduced to the life and times of Aiden O’Hara, head of his family of hard-up and neglected, young delinquents living on a council estate, who end up becoming rich and influential drug dealers controlling all the merchandise coming into London from Jamaica and Columbia.

Almost all of the characters fall into one or several of the following categories: heavy drinkers, drug users, drug dealers, murderers, prostitutes, pimps, and many of them are often violent and mentally unstable. None of the main characters has a regular or normal job or education, as they are all directly or indirectly part of the mob. There are a few characters who appear fleetingly, such as police officers, actors, singers, politicians, and health professionals, who are part of the mainstream, but they are all corrupt. It’s a world I find difficult to understand or grasp, which is why this novel was an eye-opener, albeit a disturbing one. It reveals a world I know exists, but mostly avoid and rarely interact with.

Although the O’Hara family was tight and supportive, and even seemed happy at times, most of their lives were traumatic, to say the least. I did feel sympathy for many of the characters because they were practically forced to embrace a life of crime. As a teacher, I have occasionally dealt with similar youngsters and their families, and it made me question how we fail as a society due to the insufficient funding and intervention of social services, formal education and training, and psychological or careers counselling.

There was a brave, yet weak, attempt to convince ‘clever’ Aiden to pursue his studies, but if they were to keep the family together, delinquency or poverty were their only options. If he had pursued a more traditional approach to exploiting his astuteness and earning a living, there would have been a novel, too, because Aiden is a worthy character for any novel, however, it would have been a very different novel.

There were many disturbing events throughout, but the last chapter was so dramatic, that I felt shocked almost to tears, and that’s thanks to Martina Cole’s ability to bring me into the novel and feel as if I know and care about the characters.

I have mixed feelings about the final chapter, the epilogue. I understand the need for closure after such a dramatic ending in the previous chapter, but it felt like an anticlimax and somehow justified all the violence and crime which had taken place before and would continue to take place in the future.

Betrayal has 126 short chapters, which in some cases were too short and slightly disjointed. The first half of the novel was excellently executed, but it dragged a little in the middle and there was a lot of telling and repetition, and some confusing head hopping in the POV in the second half. Overall, I believe it would have benefitted from more thorough editing.

On the other hand, I also think it could have been longer, because the premise is ambitious, as it covers almost 40 years and three generations of O’Haras. Some characters and events would have needed more depth and it could have become a more powerful novel. I think the author has the talent to write a masterpiece as well as a fast and easy to read bestseller, and I hope that one day I’ll have the pleasure of reading it.

Overall it was an engrossing read, mainly because the main characters, especially Aidan, his mother, and some of his siblings, were so vividly portrayed. The reader is immersed in the characters’ criminal world, which might not be to every reader’s liking, but will not leave any reader indifferent, which is why I gave it four stars.

Especially for lovers of organised crime thrillers and intense family sagas, set in the UK.

US buy link

UK buy link

Martina Cole is the acknowledged queen of crime drama with more than twenty novels to her name, of which over a dozen have been No.1 bestsellers.

Several of Martina’s novels have been adapted for the screen, including The Take and The Runaway which were shown on Sky 1 to remarkable reviews. In addition, Two Women and The Graft have been adapted for the stage; both were highly acclaimed when performed at the Theatre Royal Stratford East, which also staged Dangerous Lady in 2012, celebrating twenty years since Martina’s debut novel was published.

More about Martina Cole here

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