A Dangerous Crossing

A Dangerous Crossing

 

A Dangerous Crossing

by Rachel Rhys

 

1939, Europe on the brink of war. Lily Shepherd leaves England on an ocean liner for Australia, escaping her life of drudgery for new horizons. She is instantly seduced by the world onboard: cocktails, black-tie balls and beautiful sunsets. Suddenly, Lily finds herself mingling with people who would otherwise never give her the time of day.

But soon she realizes her glamorous new friends are not what they seem. The rich and hedonistic Max and Eliza Campbell, mysterious and flirtatious Edward, and fascist George are all running away from tragedy and scandal even greater than her own.

By the time the ship docks, two passengers are dead, war has been declared, and life will never be the same again.

 

Lily shepherd is travelling to Australia, taking advantage of a government assisted place programme. She has to spend two years in domestic service when she arrives, but nevertheless she is looking forward to her new life and new adventures, hoping it will help her escape events from her past life.

The ocean liner provides an existence bubble away from the protocols of real life; class boundaries blur and unlikely friendships are struck up.

Set in the period leading up to WWII, many of the ship’s passengers are trying to escape the impending war and their own dark secrets. As the voyage goes on it becomes clear that something tragic is going to happen.

I absolutely adored this Agatha Christiesque tale of decadence and intrigue. The sights, sounds and smells of this ocean liner are brought brilliantly to life by clever, astute writing of the highest order. The stop-overs at the various countries immerse you in the crowds, the bustle, the cultures; you don’t just read this book: you feel it and experience it.

The characters are wonderful, Lily, who is at the heart of the story, trying to escape her demons and forge a new life; Max and Eliza, first class passengers who befriend Lily; the unstable George Price, with fascist leanings; Maria, a Jewish woman fleeing Europe and its impending war; and brother and sister Edward and Helena Fletcher who are also harbouring secrets.

The cover of the book is just perfect, the huge liner about to take over everyone’s life and one of the passenger’s (Lily?) so small looking up to a new life, yet seemingly up to her neck in water.

I am not sure how you would describe this book; it’s not classic murder/mystery with suspects, more historical drama with intrigue. However you describe it, it is wonderful, an absolute gem and highly recommended.

Many thanks to Alison Barrow at Transworld for sending me a copy

 

 

 

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When She Was Bad

when she was bad

 

When She Was Bad

by Tammy Cohen

 

YOU SEE THE PEOPLE YOU WORK WITH EVERY DAY.

BUT WHAT CAN’T YOU SEE?

Amira, Sarah, Paula, Ewan and Charlie have worked together for years – they know how each one likes their coffee, whose love life is a mess, whose children keep them up at night. But their comfortable routine life is suddenly shattered when an aggressive new boss walks in ….

Now, there’s something chilling in the air.

Who secretly hates everyone?

Who is tortured by their past?

Who is capable of murder?

 

There are two parts to this story. On the one hand we have the present day office-based story, where a group of co-workers are jolted out of their comfort zone by the arrival of a new manager, whose mission is to turn around the business, to this end she pits the staff against each other, exposing the dark underbelly of office politics, that a lot of people will recognise in one form or another. On the other hand we have child psychologist, Dr Anne Cater, watching a report of a crime that has been committed. She recognises the accused and we are taken back in time to when she was a junior and her first case involving child abuse towards two siblings.

I loved the writing in this book, Tammy Cohen draws you in with a brilliant first paragraph:

Imagine we could see the damage inside ourselves. Imagine it showed through us like contraband in an airport scanner. What would it be like, to walk around the city with it all on view – all the hurts and the betrayals and the things that diminished us; all the crushed dreams and the broken hearts? What would it be like to see the people our lives have made us? The people we are, under our skin.

I really enjoyed the first half of this book, it had the feel of a really strong psychological thriller. The office setting was really clever and original. The alternating chapters from Anne’s point of view that gave insight into a horrific case of child abuse and the repercussions from it were strong and affecting. 

As the story moved on I really couldn’t see where the connection for the two stories was going to be, and for me that was a problem. The disconnect between the two stories was too much and they felt shoe-horned together at the end. I didn’t feel it mattered who was killed or who did the killing.

Having said that I found the writing to be crisp and the characters well-drawn and I found there was lots to like about the book. I will definitely read other books by this author.

Many thanks to the publisher for sending me a copy via Netgalley