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Sharing our love for authors, and the stories they are inspired to tell.

‘Why She Died’
by J.G. Roberts
Books on Tour
Review

 

Thank you to the lovely Sarah and the Bookouture team, for inviting me to share in this ‘Books on Tour’ schedule.

With Fiction Books stop on this tour taking place on the final day, I’m sure that there will have been plenty of other reviews already shared, so why not visit a few of the earlier tour participants and see what goodies are on offer … A full schedule of ‘Books on Tour’ spots, is shown below!

WHY SHE DIED (DCI Rachel Hart – Book #3)

It was a person after all, but she was suspended in mid-air. Abi’s heart began to thump against her ribcage as the full horror of what she was seeing became apparent. Her shrill scream pierced the silence, startling birds into taking flight. ‘Help me!’ she cried. ‘Somebody please help!’

When beautiful and bright Hannah is late for their morning run, her best friend Abi thinks nothing of it. Hannah isn’t always that reliable – she’s probably just overslept.

But as Abi runs through the woods, following the same route she always does, she is greeted by a horrifying sight: Hannah’s body, swaying in the breeze.

Detective Rachel Hart is called to the scene. Something seems wrong from the start. Hannah’s friends and family insist that she had everything to live for, and no one has a bad word to say about her. But when murder is confirmed, and Rachel starts digging, she soon realises that there were plenty of people with reasons to want Hannah dead.

Then a second woman is found strangled in the same woods, and everything Rachel thought is thrown into doubt. Is there a serial killer at work?

Rachel is determined to find answers before another life is lost – all the time unaware that the killer’s sights are focussed firmly on her.

Can Rachel unravel the deadly game before she walks into a trap?

J.G. ROBERTS

Image of author J.G. RobertsJulia was born in Nottingham in 1956, where at just fourteen months of age, she contracted the paralytic form of polio, which saw her hospitalised for five months. On Christmas Eve 1957 when she was released from hospital into her parents’ care they were cautioned that she would never walk without the aid of a caliper, however hours of physiotherapy exercises, swimming and dancing lessons, combined with a huge amount of determination from both Julia and her mother proved the doctors wrong in a spectacular way when she signed her first professional dancing contract in 1973.

There followed a very successful career for Julia in various mediums of entertainment from cabaret and a record deal, to television commercials, acting roles and game shows.

It was during a short career break, when her two children were born, that Julia decided she would like to try her hand at presenting and today, she is probably best known as the original face of the successful shopping channel, QVC.

She is a passionate supporter of Crystal Palace Football Club and through her association with the club, Julia has also produced and presented several features for Sky Sports.

She is also a proud ambassador for several charities which are very close to her heart.

Julia’s other passion is of course, writing, an ambition she has coveted from an early age, when she was awarded second prize in a story-writing competition. Her journey to publication took a while, forty-seven years to be precise, but she is delighted that, having self-published for several years, she signed up to write three books for award-winning digital publisher, Bookouture.

Visit Julia at her website

Follow Julia on Twitter

Connect with Julia on Facebook

FIRST LINES

PROLOGUE

6.25 a.m. – Saturday

Abi Wyett pulled her waist-length blonde hair up into a ponytail, securing it with a bright yellow spiral band before perching on the edge of her bed to tie the orange laces on her trainers.

.

ONE

The Day Before – 4.00 p.m. – Friday

DCI Rachel Hart was feeling a bit of a fraud. Although she had been back at work for a week, it was obvious to her that her second in command, DI Graham Wilson, was bearing the brunt of the workload and only passing minor things in her direction.

MEMORABLE LINES 

“She was trying to employ the breathing technique she had been taught as a young child to calm herself in times of severe stress, but it wasn’t proving particularly effective.”

.

“Her own dad had always said that the police who handled the case when she and Ruth were abducted were kind and compassionate. It was what had given them hope in their darkest hours. I joined the force intending to be that kind of police officer, Rachel recalled. Have I changed? Has the reality of modern policing turned me into someone cruel and uncaring?”

.

“Criminals think they’re so clever and have everything covered, but they almost always make one critical mistake, which is a good thing from our point of view.”

.

” ‘Things are very rarely what they seem when you start scratching away at the surface.’ … ‘It’s the same in my business. We uncover things that the defendant would rather we didn’t know and then try to bury them deep enough in the hope that the prosecution won’t dig them up. I sometimes have to question my own integrity.’ ”

.

“As Rachel walked away, she couldn’t help thinking that although her sister Ruth was the one who had been incarcerated for years with mental health issues, it was impossible to know what was going on inside anyone’s mind.”

REVIEW

“To stop the killer, you need to know…”

Okay! This is going to be one of those subjective reviews, which really are so difficult to write, as every person takes a different journey when reading a book, which is what makes the experience so wonderful.  I do need to come clean and say that I haven’t read either of the first two books in this series, so I was hoping that Why She Died would work for me as a stand alone crime thriller. Whilst there was enough of the backstory included, so that I didn’t feel left out of anything, I do nonetheless believe that I would have benefited hugely by getting to know the characters a little better, before passing judgment on them and potentially being disingenuous with my observations and comments about them. But that’s just a personal perspective and for me, this definitely works fine as a self-contained story or a one-off peek into DCI Rachel Hart’s world.

It is clear from the vast volume of books I have read in this genre, that all fictional detectives appear to carry huge amounts of personal and emotional baggage, which they often struggle to keep separate from their investigations and in this series DCI Rachel Hart, is clearly no exception. Knowing some of the details of her emotional crisis and that she has only recently returned to work, it would seem to me that she is far from ready to take on the routine trauma which by default comes with her job, and she should maybe have taken more time to rest and recover her strength and focus. She is clearly running so highly on adrenaline, that all of her colleagues, although they have every sympathy with her situation, are struggling to cope with her tempestuous mood swings and the terse way she communicates with them. All of which doesn’t make for a team working cooperatively or cohesively well together and who are constantly treading on eggshells, rather than having the free flowing exchanges of ideas and information they would obviously benefit from.

My above observations meant that the narrative and dialogue between the detectives investigating the cases, wasn’t very consistent and sometimes seemed unnecessarily stilted and formal, compared to that which either appears in other such recent novels I have read, or which happens in many television adaptations. It would have been good to witness some spontaneous interaction between them, as they all seem to be searching for a sense of purpose and belonging, so it was very difficult to assess their individual personalities and to judge which amongst them could be developed in any future books in the series. At times it was almost akin in tone to reading a classic crime thriller from several decades ago.

As for the potential suspects and victims, there were a profusion of characters all vying for a piece of the action, non of whom were particularly agreeable or likeable, all with their own agendas and motives for committing murder. The storyline also had plenty of pace and at times there was almost too much happening and too many people in the frame, to be able to come to any conclusions about potential suspects and motives. It was great for keeping me on my toes, but also caused quite a lot of confusion, as my suspect list became longer and longer until almost everyone was on it somewhere, only to be removed or change places with someone else, as yet another twist and turn happened in the plot!

What began as one scene of crime, it soon became apparent, had developed into two separate cases, with completely independent motives, which whilst not intrinsically connected, became linked in the most terrible and inhumane of ways, by the one person who was missing from my list and whom no-one would have suspected, except for the person closest to them, who missed all the signs completely, but which were very obvious with hindsight. This only further reduced my ability to connect with her and my expectations of her  professional capabilities drastically. One other person had worked out who this most troubled and abhorrent of suspects was, but they had mysteriously disappeared.

The murder I came close to solving, but that was not until quite a long way into the story and even then I wasn’t too certain, after all the mis-directions. Revenge however, is a much more tricky emotion to spot and unravel and I had to be confronted by the suspect and have things partially explained to me, until I reached that ‘lightbulb’ moment! The end game then took yet another unscheduled turn, as this is revenge with an unexpected twist, before reaching that long searched for satisfactory conclusion. Maybe now, Rachel and Ruth can look forward to a more positive future and Rachel in particular can concentrate on strengthening the bond with her team, ready for their next case.

My overall rating of the book is 4 out of 5, however that is based on my own personal enjoyment and intrigue value of the storyline, which did have me on the edge of my seat a couple of times, turning the pages faster and faster until the crimes were all uncovered and solved! I do feel that in the cold light of day, 3 out of 5 would probably be a fairer assessment, if I were to base my review solely on the quality of the character defining and storyline building.

But Hey! after all, my enjoyment of the reading experience is all that really matters, so 4 it is!

Image of author J.G. Roberts

A Kindle download of this book, was kindly gifted to me by Bookouture, with the download being facilitated by NetGalley.

Any thoughts or comments are my own personal opinion and I am in no way being monetarily compensated for this, or any other article which promotes this book or its author.

I personally do not agree with ‘rating’ a book, as the overall experience is all a matter of personal taste, which varies from reader to reader. However some review sites do demand a rating value, so when this review is posted to such a site, it will attract a well deserved 4 out of 5 stars!

Image of the Blog Tour banner for the book 'Why She Died' by J.G. Roberts

 

Written by
Yvonne

I can’t remember a time, even as a child, when I haven’t been passionate about books and reading.
I began blogging, when I realised just how many other people out there shared my passion for the written word and I have been continually amazed at the wealth of books that are available and the amount of great new friends I have made, from literally 'The Four Corners Of The World'.

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4 comments
  • A good review, Yvonne, and I appreciate your total honestly. Yes… reading and enjoyment of books is very subjective, so assigning ratings is a tricky thing.

    I can tell from what you’ve said that I would definitely need to begin with the first in the series and go from there. I’m not sure I’m looking for another series filled with any kind of angst right now (yes! detectives always seem to have “baggage”!), but I might want to check it out at some point in the future.

    • Hi Kelly,

      Knowing you as I do, you would definitely want to read this series from the beginning, as Rachel does carry huge amounts of baggage around with her, although I am hoping that the burden might have lessened somewhat following this latest update on her affairs, which seems to have given her some final closure and a way to move on!

      I really got hooked up in the story, which had plenty of intrigue and interest, it was just Rachel’s interaction with her team, which left me feeling a little ‘cold’. There didn’t seem to be any sense of camaraderie, or the open sharing of ideas and information, amongst what was a relatively small team.

      I think that 4 stars was still very fair though, as it kept me guessing right to the end and then I only got it half right!

      The book is a good police procedural and I am hoping that sooner or later, one of these days, one of the new swathe of fictional detectives, will be picked up and optioned for television rights, as there seems to be a real lack of any new scheduling in this genre. I can remember a time when all you could get on TV most nights, were police and detective programmes! 🙂

  • Oh my goodness! Can you imagine finding your friend like this, that it then turns out that several people have reason to want her dead. Straight away I’m intrigued.
    That, despite your feeling you would have benefited from getting to know the characters a little better, this was a solid four out of 5 star read says a lot. Definitely a book (and author) I’ll keep a look out for Yvonne, thanks for sharing your thoughts on what sounds like a great read.

    • Hi! Felicity,

      And that’s only half the story! There are so many twists and turns in this tale, that I swear the pages turned themselves, so that I didn’t have to stop reading.

      My suspect list was a relative ‘who’s who’ and I still didn’t get it right, As fast as I put one person at the top of the list, information came to light which took them out of the frame almost straight away.

      Just about all the characters made the top spot, with the exception of the eventual guilty suspect and take into account that by now the police had worked out that they were in fact, investigating two separate, but linked cases!

      Confused, you will be … You really do need to get your hands on a copy of the book, if at all possible 🙂

      Thanks for stopping by and I hope that all is well with you 🙂

Written by Yvonne
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