"He had found exactly the right spot in the woods. A little clearing, green and dim, encircled by tall trees. A magical, mystery place. He would bring his lovely Helen here... This time it was going to be perfect.
When Alicia Bryson returns to her estranged father's home in a tiny Yorkshire village, she feels burdened by his illness. Her hometown brings back memories of a miserable and violent childhood, and Alicia worries that her young daughter Jenny's summer will be filled with a similar sense of unhappiness.
The town is exactly as she remembered it, the people, the buildings, even the woods. But Alicia's arrival has not gone unnoticed.
There is someone watching her every move. Someone who has a plan of his own. Someone who will not stop until the people he loves most can rest together, in paradise."
So, I had a big Uni exam last week, and instead of revising spent the entire evening prior to the exam reading this. Creepy and chilling, this was just what the doctor ordered to keep my mind off of things, (although, seeing as I'm doing an English Lit degree, this probably still counted as revision, right??!). Set in Scotland, this suckered me right in from the off - I didn't guess who was the culprit til the end, but through the entire novel there was an eerie feeling of suspense, that although the reader knows that there's a killer out there, is only heightened by this knowledge - particularly as the parts written from the killer's point of view are very enigmatic, given an impression that the culprit could be ANYBODY.
The characters are all very well-written - I really liked Alicia, and was intrigued by her relationship with her father.
The Cold, Cold Sea
"They stared at each other, and Maggie felt the tightness in her middle expand as it shifted, burning its way up - Painful sobs rose from her throat as Colin, his face expressionless now, reached for his mobile and dialled 999. When three-year-old Olivia disappears, her parents are overwhelmed with grief. Weeks go by and Olivia's mother refuses to leave the cottage, staring out at the turbulent sea and praying it didn't claim her precious daughter's life. Not far away, another mother watches proudly as her daughter starts school. Jennifer has loved Hailey for five years, but the child is suddenly moody and difficult, and there's a niggling worry of doubt that Jennifer cannot shake off. As she struggles to maintain control there are gaps in her story that even she can't explain. Time is running out for Maggie at the cottage, and also for Jennifer and Hailey. No-one can underestimate a mother's love for her child, and no-one can predict the lengths one will go to, to protect her family."
So, following on from the BIG EXAM DAY, I thought I would unwind with Linda's other novel - and I have to say I enjoyed it even more than The Paradise Trees.
There is a very good plot running through the novel, and although what happens is fairly straightforward, and there are not really any shocking twists, the tension is built up well and it makes for a very enjoyable read. The characters are very easy to dislike - some are really quite horrid - but I found the book unexpectedly emotional. I found it hard to grasp the relationships between Maggie and Olivia, and between Jennifer and Hayley, and I didn't think I was very emotionally invested in them, until the end, when I found myself bawling like a baby.
A very good read, one that I would most definitely recommend.
The Paradise Trees and The Cold, Cold Sea are both out now and you can get them here:
**My thanks to the author for sending me these lovely signed copies**