Why did I take so long to get to it? As soon as I finished this cracking read, I trawled the net for info. A quick search briefed me that it was the Richard and Judy winner.
Well it is certainly endorsed by some great names in crime thrillers on the book jacket. However, not one to go by promotions, there was some skepticism at the beginning. It was quite a wait to get to this one and wow, what a read. Greatly recommend for students of the craft.
It has a very arresting premise. Jenna has run away to the scenic beauty of Wales to escape a past. It was a cruel night in November that changed her life forever. Can she start over and escape the past - that is the gist of the plot.
- Everything. Right in the beginning we learn of the tragedy and what happens later is just the repercussions.
- The setting. I like Wales, and Mackintosh makes it come alive. The bay, the waves and the salty air bring the setting to life and provide such a beautiful backdrop to the story. I was utterly fasciated by Penfach, that I am half tempted to drive up the place to find out if it really is as awesome as its bookish description!
- I loved the way the narratives ran parallel. There are sub plots that run along smoothly and then blend in at a crucial juncture into the main narrative.
- The sub-plots are rich, independent, complex threads filled with some great characters.
- The characters are so rich and distinct. They seem real and endearing. Jenna's vulnerability, Ray's principles and Mags' situation sound so accessible. My favourite character was Mags, the police officer who gives it all up to be a mother, yet is in sync with her policewoman instincts. There is a character there just waiting to be developed.
- The fact that the author has been in the police force shows through the ease with which the police scenes are well detailed. They politics, the bureaucracy, the limitations under which the police force try to do their duty shines through.
- The best part is the ambiguity of narrative. There are some OH! moments where you feel a bit lost but that is the best part. The twists in the narrative are so well planned that it really makes the reader sit back and be more alert.
- Nothing. The only thing striking out is the violence. It is brutal and tragic but then that forms the crux of the story. But Mackintosh doesn't make it gruesome, it is ordinary yet full of impact. It creates the hows and whys for the plot to move forward.
A fantastic read. Highly recommended.