East Lynne by Ellen Wood

About the book

Coward! Sneak! May good men shun him, from henceforth! may his Queen refuse to receive him! You, an earl’s daughter! Oh, Isabel! How utterly you have lost yourself!’ When the aristocratic Lady Isabel abandons her husband and children for her wicked seducer, more is at stake than moral retribution. Ellen Wood played upon the anxieties of the Victorian middle classes who feared a breakdown of the social order as divorce became more readily available and promiscuity threatened the sanctity of the family. In her novel the simple act of hiring a governess raises the spectres of murder, disguise, and adultery. Her sensation novel was devoured by readers from the Prince of Wales to Joseph Conrad and continued to fascinate theatre-goers and cinema audiences well into the next century.

Reviewed by The Benches

Although this 19 Century novel was more than 600 pages, the consensus was that it was an ‘easy’ read, well strung together with strongly developed characters – The Judge: A pompous fellow – Cornelia: A sharply spoken Harridan: Barbara: only happy when she had her own way: and Isobel: a rather feeble heroine. An obvious plot, probably originated as a weekly journal and conveniently some of the story was repetitive. A victorian’soap’ Appealing more, perhaps to women readers.”

star rating ***

Read this book

Request to borrow a reading book set

http://www3.hants.gov.uk/borrow-book-sets.htm

The Surgeon of Crowthorne by Simon Winchester

About the book

The making of the Oxford English Dictionary was a monumental 50 year task requiring thousands of volunteers. One of the keenest volunteers was a W C Minor who astonished everyone by refusing to come to Oxford to receive his congratulations. In the end, James Murray, the OED’s editor, went to Crowthorne in Berkshire to meet him. What he found was incredible – Minor was a millionaire American civil war surgeon turned lunatic, imprisoned in Broadmoor Asylum for murder and yet who dedicated his entire cell-bound life to work on the English language.

Reviewed by Enjoying Books

A fascinating book – most informative and beautifully written, The tortured life of Dr Minor interweaved with that of Murray and their labours on the OED – you will learn a great deal”

star rating ****

 

Read this book

Request to borrow a reading book set

http://www3.hants.gov.uk/borrow-book-sets.htm

Disordered Minds by Minette Walters

About the book

In 1970, Harold Stamp, a retarded twenty-year-old was convicted on disputed evidence and a retracted confession of brutally murdering his grandmother – the one person who understood and protected him. Less than three years later he is dead, driven to suicide by isolation and despair. A fate befitting a murderer, perhaps, but what if he were innocent?

Thirty years on, Jonathan Hughes, an anthropologist specialising in social stereotyping, comes across the case by accident. He finds alarming disparities in the evidence and has little doubt that Stamp’s conviction was a terrible miscarriage of justice. But how far is Hughes prepared to go in the search for justice? Is the forgotten story of one friendless young man compelling enough to make him leave his books and face his own demons?

And with what result? If Stamp didn’t murder Grace Jeffries then somebody else did . . . and sleeping dogs are best left alone . . .

Reviewed by Totton 1

We didn’t enjoy this book. Hard to engage with and a bit messy”

star rating *

 

Read this book

Request to borrow a reading book set

http://www3.hants.gov.uk/borrow-book-sets.htm

American Boy by Andrew Taylor

About the book

England 1819: Thomas Shield, a new master at a school just outside London, is tutor to a young American boy and the child’s sensitive best friend, Charles Frant. Helplessly drawn to Frant’s beautiful, unhappy mother, Thomas becomes entwined in their family’s affairs.

When a brutal murder takes place in London’s seedy backstreets, it is not certain who either the victim or the killer is. But all clues seem to lead back to the Frant household, and Shield is tangled in a web of lies, money, sex and death that threatens to tear his new life apart.

And what of the strange American boy at the heart of these macabre events – what is the dark secret of young Edgar Allan Poe?

 

Reviewed by Hill Head Readers

An enjoyable read; history well researched and descriptions extremely vivid. We were disappointed with the conclusion and lack of story involving Edgar Allan Poe. Several members felt the plot was too intricate”

star rating *** ½

 

 

The Little Friend by Donna Tartt

About the book

Twelve-year-old Harriet is doing her best to grow up, which is not easy as her mother is permanently on medication, her father has silently moved to another city, and her serene sister rarely notices anything. All of them are still suffering from the shocking and mysterious death of her brother Robin twelve years earlier, and it seems to Harriet that the family may never recover. So, inspired by Captain Scott, Houdini, and Robert Louis Stevenson, she sets out with her only friend Hely to find Robin’s murderer and punish him. But what starts out as a child’s game soon becomes a dark and dangerous journey into the menacing underworld of a small Mississippi town.

Reviewed by Everton

A multi-layered story with brilliant characterisation. Excellent use of language and description created pictures in the mind. A little disappointed that we never discovered Robin’s killer”

star rating ***

 

Read this book

Request to borrow a reading book set

http://www3.hants.gov.uk/borrow-book-sets.htm

 

The Death of Bees by Lisa O’Donnell

About the book

Today is Christmas Eve. Today is my birthday. Today I am fifteen. Today I buried my parents in the backyard. Neither of them were beloved. Marnie and her little sister Nelly have always been different. Marnie leads a life of smoking, drinking and drugs; Nelly enjoys playing the violin, eating cornflakes with Coke and reading Harry Potter. But on Christmas Eve, the sisters have to join forces and put their differences aside. And when Lennie, the old guy next door, starts to get suspicious, it’s only a matter of time before their terrible secret is discovered.

Reviewed by Stubbington Book Ends

After a disturbing beginning, a surprisingly good read. Believable characters with whom we could sympathise”

star rating ****

 

Read this book

Request to borrow a reading book set

http://www3.hants.gov.uk/borrow-book-sets.htm

Rage Against the Dying by Becky Masterman

About the book

After a long and murky career with the FBI, Brigid Quinn is trying to move on. She’s got a nice house. Dogs. A husband who knows nothing of her past. But the abduction and murder of a young female colleague still haunts her.

So when the girl’s body is finally found, and a man confesses to the murder, Brigid is desperate for answers. Yet the more she learns, the more convinced she is that they have the wrong man. Following leads that the Bureau ignored, she’s propelled straight into the path of a ruthless serial killer. One who has evaded the law for decades, and will stop at nothing to keep her quiet…

But Brigid Quinn is a woman to be reckoned with.

Reviewed by Dilkusha

“Quite graphic but on the whole quite a good read. Most of us enjoyed the last few chapters

star rating *** ½

Read this book

Request to borrow a reading book set

http://www3.hants.gov.uk/borrow-book-sets.htm

The Savage Garden by Mark Mills

About the book

Behind a villa in the heart of Tuscany lies a Renaissance garden of enchanting beauty. Its grottoes, pagan statues and classical inscriptions seem to have a secret life of their own – and a secret message, too, for those with eyes to read it.

Young scholar Adam Strickland is just such a person. Arriving in 1958, he finds the Docci family, their house and the unique garden as seductive as each other. But post-War Italy is still a strange, even dangerous place, and the Doccis have some dark skeletons hidden away which Adam finds himself compelled to investigate.

Before this mysterious and beautiful summer ends, Adam will uncover two stories of love, revenge and murder, separated by 400 years… but is another tragedy about to be added to the villa’s cursed past?

 

Reviewed by Enjoying Books

“An interesting Story – set in Italy with some twists and turns with classical references. A holiday read possibly – a different crime novel which interested most of the group”

star rating ***

Read this book

Request to borrow a reading book set

http://www3.hants.gov.uk/borrow-book-sets.htm

Entry Island by Peter May

About the book

IF YOU FLEE FATE…When Detective Sime Mackenzie is sent from Montreal to investigate a murder on the remote Entry Island, 850 miles from the Canadian mainland, he leaves behind him a life of sleeplessness and regret. FATE WILL FIND YOU…But what had initially seemed an open-and-shut case takes on a disturbing dimension when he meets the prime suspect, the victim’s wife, and is convinced that he knows her – even though they have never met. And when his insomnia becomes punctuated by dreams of a distant Scottish past in another century, this murder in the Gulf of St. Lawrence leads him down a path he could never have foreseen, forcing him to face a conflict between his professional duty and his personal destiny.

Reviewed by Wallington Village

“Very protracted stories. Unecessary time switches. Too complex for our liking although a great deal was learnt from this book”

star rating – none given

 

Read this book

Request to borrow a reading book set

http://www3.hants.gov.uk/borrow-book-sets.htm

Eye Contact by Fergus McNeill

About the book

you look him in the eye, you’re dead.

From the outside, Robert Naysmith is a successful businessman, handsome and charming. But for years he’s been playing a deadly game.

He doesn’t choose his victims. Each is selected at random – the first person to make eye contact after he begins ‘the game’ will not have long to live. Their fate is sealed.

When the body of a young woman is found on Severn Beach, Detective Inspector Harland is assigned the case. It’s only when he links it to an unsolved murder in Oxford that the police begin to guess at the awful scale of the crimes.

But how do you find a killer who strikes without motive?

Reviewed by Hythe Library

“we really enjoyed this book –the local connection made it more exciting. Normally there is a reason why someone acts in a certain way but not in this case which was refreshing. A definite complex character, not swayed by emotion, although you do see some conflict along the way with the little lad and his personal life. The ending was a little disappointing but I suppose it leaves it open to explore the character further in possible future novels

star rating ***

Read this book

Request to borrow a reading book set

http://www3.hants.gov.uk/borrow-book-sets.htm