Shadow on the Highway

 Shadow on the Highway by Deborah Swift is a historical novel, following a deaf girl by the name of Abigail Chaplin. It is set in the 17th century, during the civil war. Abi is sent to work for Lady Katherine Fanshawe at the manor house and at first finds Lady Katherine to be difficult and demanding. However the two young women soon find they have more in common than they think, and form an unlikely friendship. 

The plot of this story was engaging and fairly easy to follow, although not quite what I was expecting. The book was written for young people and at times that is very apparent. I found the characters to be interesting but at times a little immature for my liking, particularly Abi.

Overall it was a quick read, mostly enjoyable, but probably not as interesting for an adult reader as for a young person.

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Origin

For a bestselling author, Dan Brown gets an awful lot of bad press. Everyone seems to have an opinion to express about his writing style and plots (mostly how dreadful they think they are). But here’s the thing: generally I’ve found his books to be pretty enjoyable page-turners. They may not be particularly literary, but let’s be honest, a lot of thrillers are written in a similar style.

With that in mind, and having read all of the previous books in the series, I decided I really wanted to read the latest Robert Langdon thriller Origin. The novel is set in Spain and follows the protagonist as he looks to uncover the mystery behind the assassination of his friend Edmond Kirsch, just as Kirsch is about to reveal a secret to the world that he believes will end religion for good. What follows is Brown’s usual mix of secret codes, hidden assassins and shadowy figures, leading to a final twist.

So what did I think of it? Well, I wasn’t overly impressed to be honest. It was slow to start, the action not kicking in until around half way through the book. And I’d figured out the twist well in advance of it happening. There were some good bits; the scenes in the Sagrada Familia were fast paced and exciting, and met the expectations I’d had for this book. Unfortunately they didn’t make up for the plot holes, or the slow start.

Better than Inferno but not as good as the earliest Robert Langdon books, this is probably one I won’t read again.

The Cuckoo’s Calling

I love a good detective story and this novel from Robert Galbraith  (a pseudonym of J.K.Rowling) is a fantastic addition to the genre.

Cormoran Strike, private investigator, is asked to look into the death of model Lula Landry by her adoptive brother. The police decided it was a suicide, but her brother doesn’t agree with this version of events and thinks there may have been something more sinister at work in her death. With his new temporary secretary Robin, Strike investigates Landry’s glamorous life, and discovers the dark secret behind what really happened.

Filled with red herrings, hidden pasts, this is a well-written crime novel. The characters are believable and the ending satisfying. Definitely one I’d recommend and I’ll almost certainly be looking to read the sequels.