Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Lives Lost - Britta Bolt

"A minute can make all the difference...
Pieter Posthumus is enjoying a quiet drink in his favourite bar when the screaming starts. A minute later, the owner of the guesthouse next door rushes in: one of her tenants has been murdered. 
Marloes, the guesthouse owner, is an odd but kind soul. Posthumus cannot believe it when she is arrested - for both her tenant Zig's murder and another death years before. He knows there are questions unanswered: what is the link between the two cases? Why are people so keen to think Marloes is guilty? And why did Zig paint just one picture every year - a copy of a Dutch master, but with one peculiar twist? 
As his investigation progresses, he comes to see that a few minutes can mean all the difference in the world: between saving a life and taking one; between innocence and guilt. And that sometimes asking questions leads to a truth that's hard to bear."

To be honest, I wasn't too sure about this one when I started it - it was very slow paced and it took me quite a while to get into it, however it did turn out to be a pretty good read. Although it started slowly, the plot was well-written, and once I had my head around a few things that weren't particularly clear in the beginning, (I wasn't too sure at first exactly what Pieter Posthumus did for a living, or how he came to be investigating events), I actually came to quite like Pieter Posthumus, and I could see readers getting rather attached to him, if further books in the series come about, (which I think they will, as the ending leaves you hanging in the hope that there will be more).
The characters are well-written, although some are hard to relate to as they are really quite horrid! The novel works as a standalone, but I think it would be best to read the previous novel first - I didn't, and I get the feeling that I would have found the characters more relatable if I had. 

Lives Lost is a slow, but subtle read, there are a few good twists, and although I found it hard to get into, once I started I wanted to know exactly what was going to happen - and a quirky but charming protagonist ensures you'll be hooked before long. 

Lives Lost is out now and you can get it here:

Pieter Posthumus is renowned among his friends for being a good cook. In LIVES LOST, Posthumus lifts the lid on a casserole dish, releasing aromas of aniseed and thyme. This is what is in it. His niece Merel finds it delicious.

Posthumus’s Aniseed Chicken
1 small tin organic, Italian plum tomatoes
(Posthumus has a low opinion of tasteless, ‘digital’ Dutch fresh tomatoes)
2 large onions, quartered
3 Tablespoons of olive oil
Juice from half a freshly squeezed orange
80 ml Pernod
            (PP’s secret ingredient)
A pinch of saffron
Small handful of fresh thyme
3 bay leaves
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

4 large fennel bulbs, preferably with leaves attached, trimmed and cut into eighths
4 chicken legs with thighs attached, skinned

Half a kilo of peeled, fairly firm potatoes
500 ml of chicken stock (preferably home-made)

Zest of one orange
            (Another PP secret)
The day before, mix the ingredients for the marinade in a large ceramic or glass bowl. Add the fennel pieces and give a good stir, then add the chicken and do the same. Cover and refrigerate for 12-24 hours, giving the whole thing a good turnover from time to time.

At least an hour before you start cooking, remove the marinating chicken from the fridge.
Tip chicken with the marinade into a cast-iron (stove-top) casserole dish, and stew it, covered and in the marinade, on a medium heat for 30 minutes.
Add the potatoes and the stock, bring to the boil, and simmer gently for another 30-45 minutes, until the potatoes are cooked but not disintegrating.
Remove from the heat, leave to stand for five minutes, then add the orange zest and serve.

Adjust seasoning at the end if needs be. This makes a fairly soupy mix, if you’d prefer less liquid reduce the amount of chicken stock.

**My thanks to the Publisher for my ARC ** 

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