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“Scottish Noir at its very best”
‘A Sinner’s Gift’
by Zoe Beesley
The Review

A SINNER’S GIFT

Cover Image Of The Book 'A Sinner's Gift' By Zoe BeesleyAfter a decade of working in the darkened streets of London, Officer Fergus Toop is back in the Highlands of Scotland.

Standing in the dim light, with the clouds threatening to break over the hills, hopes of a fresh start are fast becoming a distant memory.

Death is a part of him. He can’t escape it.

The scene before him is haunting, beautiful somehow. The remnants of the day just gone still linger in the sky, offering a final breath of light before the corpse turns to black shadow and the landscape claims the soul of a broken man.

A textbook suicide.

The evidence is there in front of him. But as Toop digs deeper he finds himself caught in a web of buried truths.

Only one thing remains certain: Not even the dead can keep their secrets.

ZOE BEESLEY

Image Of Author Zoe BeesleyZoë Beesley was born and raised in Scotland, and now lives in New Zealand.

She has a Master’s degree in International Relations and Arabic and a Postgraduate Diploma in Education.

A Sinner’s Gift is her first novel, and a book that has been inspired by her love of the mountains and their secrets.

“It’s a funny thing, being a first time author. You come to the realisation that, come publication day, you are willingly putting yourself out there, a naïve and enthusiastic lamb to the slaughter. Hoping, with every fibre of your being, that people will like what you have done. That you are good enough.”

Check out Zoe’s lovely Guest Post in full.

FIRST LINES – Read more here

Cover Image Of The Book 'A Sinner's Gift' By Zoe Beesley“Sir?” He hesitated, nervous. “Did you hear me?”
Fergus Toop grabbed for his jacket.
“Don’t touch anything. I’ll be twenty minutes.”
Without waiting for a reply, Toop chucked the phone onto the couch and headed out of the door.

TEASER LINES – Read more here

Cover Image Of The Book 'A Sinner's Gift' By Zoe BeesleyJon took a step back, then another one, putting distance between himself and the body.

The vomit rose in his throat. Bitter.

He crouched down towards the floor, his knees failing him as he sank into a defeated ball. Sickened. A clear bile released from his small intestine and the muscles in his stomach tightened, inducing a wave of violent contractions. He hung his head to the side of his knees, retching repeatedly as the spasms gripped his body, reducing him to a shivering mass. His voice remained trapped in his chest.


Cover Image Of The Book 'A Sinner's Gift' By Zoe Beesley

MY THOUGHTS ABOUT THE BOOK

“In seeking revenge you must dig two graves – one for yourself”

Wow! Where to begin with this one!

A story in two parts and timelines, the late 1980s and the present day. Written in alternating chapters, well signed, sharp, short and punchy, making dipping in and out of the story very easy and uncomplicated for those of us who have to snatch those few odd moments with a book.

The link which joins the timelines together however, is complicated, volatile and full of twists and turns. Vengeance and revenge are very much on the agenda, although the sum total of individual crimes which go to make up the whole end game, are multitudinous, warped and often sickening in their nature.

Leaving Toop and his team aside, the characters and players in this story of depravation, are all well defined, although are almost all totally reprehensible and unlikable. Zoe has done a fantastic job of really making the skin of the reader literally crawl, as the sheer scale of the depths to which they will plunge in order to conceal the facts, is revealed, layer by layer.

The main protagonist, Officer Fergus Toop, is clearly a broken man, who despite everyone’s best efforts, including his own, appears to be damaged beyond repair. He has suffered a tragedy in his personal life from which he cannot move on, and it almost seems as though he is operating in self-destruct mode.

I do hope that Zoe writes another chapter in Toop’s life, just so that I can satisfy myself that he is surviving and has allowed Sally, the pathologist and his long-term friend, to help him try and make sense of things and begin the healing process. It would also be good to see how Toop shapes up as a police officer in further episodes, as  for my money he wasn’t really very objective in this case. He rather took his eye off the ball and should have been able to spot the clues much earlier, even though the outcomes may not have been substantially altered.

Zoe observes that “You can take the cop out of London, but you can’t take London out of the cop”, however I think that right now this dour Scotsman’s mood is more suited to his native barren highlands, than it would be to a vibrant London scene. I think that Toop might be a new force to be reckoned within the genre of police procedural fiction, if only he can overcome his guilt and grief and begin working with the members of his team, rather than pushing them away and going maverick!

Zoe once asked my thoughts as to whether she should make her writing a little more literary and descriptive, however at that time I could only base my opinion purely on the length of the completed book, as I had yet to read it for myself. Now perhaps I might be so bold as to reaffirm what I had first assumed…

Whilst I really enjoy descriptive narrative and dialogue, with well developed characters, if the book in question is a psychological thriller, it ultimately does need to keep moving along at a brisk enough pace to allow the story to flow and keep me engaged. If on the other hand, the book is designated as a work of literary fiction, then the descriptive qualities of the story are all important and a slow burning storyline is totally acceptable and often even desirable.

A Sinner’s Gift , whilst still on my favourites list, did fall between both camps in some respects and whilst I personally, do enjoy descriptive narrative and dialogue, it may not be everyone’s cup of tea in this style of psychological thriller.

Image Of Author Zoe Beesley

This ARC paperback was sent to me by the publisher, AUSTIN MACAULEY. Any thoughts or comments are my own personal opinion and I am in no way being monetarily compensated for this, or any other article.

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 5 out of 5.

 

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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8 comments
  • Looking forward to reading this, Yvonne. It will be interesting to see how I feel about its style. Thank you for passing it on.

    • Hi Cath,

      It will be good to get another opinion about Zoe’s very unique style of writing, from someone I know will be totally honest with their analysis and feelings; even though it would never ultimately change my own enjoyment of the storyline and characterizations.

      I can therefore only hope that my review didn’t give out too many ‘spoilers’ ahead of you reading the book for yourself. I do try to keep comments general and evoke a feeling for the story and characters, rather than cite specific events; but sometimes that can be quite difficult without sounding too vague!

      Whilst several of my friends and family members are avid readers and their choice of genres seems to span just about everything from horror to historical fiction, none of them enjoy a good crime or psychological thriller, so those books generally end up being donated to the hospice shop. It is however, not legal for us to sell a ‘not for sale’ or ARC copy (even though an individual can sell them at a car boot sale), so they would only end up being recycled, which seems such a shame if someone else can enjoy the read and provide a little extra promotion for the author 🙂

  • I’ve enjoyed all your features of this book to date and feel it’s one I should eventually add to my TBR pile. For now, I’m trying to get caught up on the tons I already have! (and that’s not even counting book club selections)

    • Hi Kelly,

      I know exactly the dilemma you are facing with regards to your outstanding reading list. I more or less rationalized my Kindle TBR list by starting over with it. I have indexed the books in order of promotional and review priority, but after even just a few weeks it is all spiraling out of control again!!

      All that said, I am so pleased that ‘A Sinner’s Gift’ reached the top of my list eventually, as I thoroughly enjoyed it and have found an excellent new protagonist to follow, in Fergus Toop.

      Thanks for stopping by and I am pleased that you enjoyed the various posts for the book, even if it may never hit your own list 🙂

    • Hi Tracy,

      This wasn’t one of my most favourite book covers, but only from a purely commercial perspective, in that the white background doesn’t do it justice when viewed online on a white page background. The image detail is actually very cleverly put together and with the title and premise both also being very relevant to the finished story, ‘A Sinner’s Gift’ really is the complete package.

      As a debut novel, Zoe Beesley has done an amazing job with this thoroughly absorbing story and I do hope that you have the opportunity to read it for yourself one day 🙂

  • Fantastic post and I am glad you enjoyed this one so much. I love a good psychological thriller and flawed characters. I also like the quote from the author about being a first time author.

    • Hi Naida,

      Great to have you back and thanks for your kind words about the post, I always appreciate the time you take to comment.

      The characters are all definitely very flawed in this story, including Officer Fergus Toop, so if you are looking for a read that is even slightly uplifting and hopeful, I should try another book!

      For me though, if Toop was given a series of his own, I think his character could be developed very nicely and I did enjoy Zoe’s style of writing and dialogue.

      The whole of Zoe’s Guest Post was really lovely and obviously came after much thought and I agree that the passage I included here, sounds as though it comes right from the heart 🙂

Written by Yvonne

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