‘She’s a party girl. He’s a Party Leader. Things are about to get complicated…
Jenny Hannigan might be a good-time party girl but all she secretly craves is a life of domestic bliss and solid respectability.
So when she crashes into the arms of Richard Allam- the young, handsome, recently separated politician hotly tipped to lead his party to victory in the upcoming election- she thinks she’s found exactly what she is looking for.
But Jenny isn’t exactly politician’s wife material so Richard recruits the intensely private but charismatic publicist Dev Tennant to ‘spin’ Jenny to the Party…and the public.
As the election gathers momentum, it turns out that Jenny has more than one skeleton in her closet and Dev is working overtime to try and keep them there’.
Fun loving Jenny is thrilled when her politician boyfriend Richard Allam, who’s recently separated from his wife, finally agrees to bring their relationship into the open. Her enthusiasm is dampened somewhat when she discovers Richard has hired his friend Dev, a brilliant spindoctor, to make her more appealing to the British public. As Dev works with Jenny and uncovers more about her rather colourful past, it becomes glaringly obvious that Jenny is completely wrong for Richard, but completely right for Dev.
Jenny was so lovely that I felt very indignant on her behalf whenever anyone was mean to her! She’d had a pretty tough time in her past but didn’t let it bring her down or make her bitter. She was kind and unassuming, and perhaps a little naïve. Jenny’s quirky style was a joy to read about, I hated seeing her trying to change herself to fit in with the expectations of Richard’s colleagues. I’ve encountered few characters who’d make a worse politician’s wife, and yet she was devoted to self-absorbed Richard, a man who quite clearly didn’t deserve her.
Richard’s wife Julia was almost the polar opposite of Jenny, and I found her equally as enthralling. She was poised and conservative and had worked hard to mould herself into the perfect partner to aid Richard in his political ambitions, only to have him leave. Her only real similarity to Jenny was that she also didn’t allow herself to wallow in self-pity, a quality I admired in both characters.
The club formed by Jenny’s ex-boyfriends to support each other in getting over her was absolutely inspired. The idea seems a little over the top and unrealistic but it worked wonderfully within the novel, creating some hilarious little moments.
There were some extremely funny episodes in this book, Murphy obviously has a real knack for comedy, and one scene involving a fish finger stuck to a ceiling was particularly memorable. There were several real laugh-out-loud moments that I really relished. Murphy’s comic timing is consistently spot-on.
Politics and chick lit aren’t an obvious pairing, but this novel turned out to be very, very good. ‘Girl In A Spin’ was wonderfully fun and intelligently written escapism. With such a fantastically lovable heroine combined with much hilarity and Delicious Dev, this novel couldn’t fail to please. Murphy achieves the near impossible – she makes politics sexy and fun. I for one can’t wait for her next novel.
4 and a half stars
'A Christmas fling, or has Janie found the real thing? Thirty-something hairdresser Janie Johnson's single status is a constant source of gossip for her friends and clients. So after too many nights in with her cat, a blind date disaster and news that her ex is getting married, Janie realises it's time to do something dramatic with her life. It's time for an adventure! Leaving winter behind, Janie takes the plunge and books an exotic trip to Africa. Her friends think she's mad and Janie thinks they may very well be right ...but then she falls head over heels for her tour guide - and fully fledged Maasai Warrior - Dominic. But can Janie now face spending a snowy Christmas back home without him? Packed with unforgettable characters, romance and laughter, Wrapped Up In You is your very own perfect Christmas Carole! '
Thirty-something hairdresser Janie is fed up of hearing about her customers’ love lives and holidays yet never having any adventures of her own. When she finds out her ex is getting married to his pregnant girlfriend, Janie decides to shake up her life by booking a last minute trip to Africa. This venture changes Janie’s life in more ways than she could possibly imagine, as it’s while she’s visiting the Maasai Mara that she falls in love with Dominic, a Maasai Warrior.
When Janie gets home she finds that she can’t stop thinking about Dominic and he about her. Following another visit to Africa, she invites Dominic to come and live with her. He agrees and they hope they’re about to begin their happy ever after. Unfortunately, the course of true love never did run smooth, and it’s not going to be easy for Dominic to settle into life in an English village, especially when most of Janie’s friends are certain he’s a gold digger. Is Janie and Dominic’s love strong enough to survive all the difficulties they face?
Dominic was a very entertaining and original hero. The values he brought with him from his tribe were very commendable and made him extremely likeable. Matthews had obviously researched the culture of the Maasai well and she made full use of her knowledge to really bring his character to life. His love for Janie is genuine and I never doubted it, even when a lot of Janie’s friends did. It was a sign of the author’s good writing that she managed to convey so much about Dominic, even at the beginning of the book, that I was positive he was a good guy and would never intentionally hurt Janie.
My favourite feature of the novel has got to be Dominic’s friendship with Janie’s cat, Archibald the Aggressive. The image of Archibald, who would strike terror into the bravest of hearts, meekly wrapping himself around Dominic’s neck before they left to check on all the old dears in the village was truly delightful.
Janie’s next-door neighbour, Mike, was a real sweetheart; Janie was a very lucky girl having him and Dominic to choose between! One of the best scenes in the book was when Mike joins Dominic in the garden for one of the Maasai Warrior’s favourite activities: jumping. In all fairness to him, Mike does his best bless him!
The scenes in the Maasai Mara were gorgeously written and managed to invoke the beauty and individually of the region for me, and made a brilliant change from the usual settings of this type of fiction. I wanted Janie and Dominic to revisit Africa so that more of Dominic’s family’s reaction to their relationship could have been explored; I was a little disappointed when they didn’t.
What really made this book stand out was the uniqueness of the hero. Dominic was wonderful and a perfect, if unusual match for Janie; I enjoyed seeing their relationship blossom and grow. The problems and prejudice they faced added grit to this gentle and very lovingly written romance and left me with plenty to think about long after I’d finished reading.
'On the eve of her ninth birthday, Rose Edelstein bites into her mother’s homemade lemon-chocolate cake and discovers she has a magical gift: she can taste her mother’s emotions in the slice. All at once her cheerful, can-do mother tastes of despair and desperation. Suddenly, and for the rest of her life, food becomes perilous. Anything can be revealed at any meal. Rose’s gift forces her to confront the truth behind her family’s emotions – her mother’s sadness, her father’s detachment and her brother’s clash with the world. But as Rose grows up, she learns that there are some secrets even her taste buds cannot discern. The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake is about the pain of loving those whom you know too much about, and the secrets that exist within every family. At once profound, funny, wise and sad, this is a novel to savour.'
The basic premise of ‘The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake’ is a simple one: the heroine Rose Edelstein has a bizarre ‘gift’- she can taste people’s emotions in the food they cook. Rose isn’t too enamoured with her ability and spends her life searching for factory processed food, the less natural the better, just so she can get away from the complexity of what she can taste in regular food.
What Rose doesn’t realise for a long time is that she isn’t the only unusual member of her family. When her elder brother starts mysteriously disappearing it’s time for Rose to grow up rather quickly and learn that even when you know what another person is feeling, you’re not always able to help them.
To be honest I wasn’t sure at all what to expect when I began reading this book, but was extremely pleasantly surprised by how quickly and easily I became absorbed in Rose and her life. I’d never heard of the author Aimee Bender before, but was very impressed by the uniqueness of her plot and the ease of her writing style.
I adored Rose from the very first page. Being with her when she first experiences her special ability, and knowing how shocking she finds it, really helped me to understand Rose’s actions later in the story. She was a very strong, independent character, and reading about her coming to terms with her talent was fascinating.
For me, having a supernatural element in a plotline more often than not doesn’t quite work; it can feel forced and out of place. However, when the paranormal is dealt with well, as it is here, it can be captivating and a wonderful way to explore the human psyche. What I found very intriguing in this novel was that Bender didn’t go into detail about why or how some things are possible, but rather focused on how they affected her characters’ lives and relationships.
‘The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake’ is a story that will stay with me for a long time and that I truly treasured reading. Its freshness and innovativeness was apparent from the very first page and Rose and her situation were captivating. In short, I loved it.
'Dreams can come true – it could happen to you…For the past two years, Evie Taylor has lived an invisible existence in London, a city she hoped would bring sparkle to her life. But all that is about to change. For winter has brought a flurry of snow and unexpected possibilities. Hidden away in the basement of Hardy’s – once London’s most elegant department store – Evie manages the stockroom of a shop whose glory days have long since passed. When Evie overhears that Hardy’s is at risk of being sold, she secretly hatches a plan. If she can reverse the store’s fortunes by December 26th – three weeks away – and transform it into a magical destination once again, she might just be able to save it. But she’s going to need every ounce of talent and determination she has. In fact, she’s going to need a miracle'.
Single, lonely Evie Taylor works in the stock room of run-down London department store Hardy’s. She’s as invisible as the old shop has become; in fact hardly anyone at work even knows Evie’s name.
When Evie discovers that Hardy’s will close unless it can drastically turn its fortunes around by Boxing Day, Evie begins a secret overhaul. She’s soon joined by a gang made up from the store's other ‘hidden’ employees such as a delivery boy, a security guard and a group of cleaners. Will Hardy’s secret Christmas elves be able to save their beloved workplace?
The cover artwork for this novel is lovely; it invokes Christmas spirit without seeming so over the top that you wouldn’t want to pick it up at any other time of the year. The same could be said about the story itself: obviously the festive season plays a large part in the novel, but the storyline and characters are strong enough that the yuletide setting doesn’t take over.
Unfortunately the ‘re-invention’ of Hardy’s went on for too long in my opinion, and my curiosity in the store waned halfway through the novel. I was more interested in Evie’s transformation than that of the shop. Poor Evie is in quite a state at the beginning of the plot and, whilst I appreciate that she was upset when she was first dumped, you’d think that two years on she’d be up to washing her hair and putting a bit of make-up on when she goes to work. I also didn’t like the way that Evie allowed herself to be walked over all the time, at work and at home; it particularly grated when it was Evie’s own sister, Delilah who was taking advantage of her. Delilah was just horrible. She was incredibly selfish and took advantage of Evie. She never seemed to stop complaining and neglected her children and her husband in favour of her job. What made this worse was that Evie was guilt-stricken when she wasn’t immediately available for her sister’s every whim.
I liked the characters of Evie’s friends at Hardy’s and enjoyed watching the relationships between them develop. It was heart warming to see the friendships spring up between some quite unlikely co-workers. My favourite of Evie’s little ‘elves’ was delivery boy Sam; I was really rooting for her to fall for him whereas I felt that Evie’s American love interest, Joel, seemed slightly two-dimensional. I didn’t get to know enough about him and I couldn’t work out what he initially saw in Evie – the explanation that’s given didn’t really sit right for me.
‘Miracle on Regent Street’ is Ali Harris’ debut novel and I found it to be very well written, I particularly enjoyed the descriptions of Evie’s vintage clothes and the transformations she performs on the departments in Hardy’s. As our heroine, I found Evie to be a little too downtrodden for my liking and I spent most of the novel willing her to stand up for herself, however I did like her fellow ‘elves’ who were a great bunch of people. The story was original and its festive feel is bound to ensure that this book ends up in plenty of stockings this Christmas.
3 and a half stars
“Ruby Matthews has a plan. Twelve jobs in twelve months, until she finds the one of her dreams… After an unexpected redundancy, Ruby begins to question her priorities. Inspired by a quote from Kahlil Gibran about loving your work, she launches her mission to find the ideal job. Her year of gainful (and sometimes painful!) employment includes nannying for clients in the South of France; dealing with embarrassing ailments in a Harley Street Clinic; waiting tables in a buzzy Soho cafe; and meeting the celebs of years gone by in a home for retired actors. And even though love is no longer top of her list, relationships just seem to start happening along the way – which sees her handing out some P45s of her own! But will any of the jobs, or men she meets, see her dreams come true? Or will Ruby just end up back where she started?”
Ruby Matthews is devastated to lose her well-paid marketing job just before Christmas, and makes a New Year’s Resolution to change her life by doing a different job every month for the next twelve months. Hopefully by the end of the year she’ll know what she really wants to do.
Ruby tries a wide variety of jobs, and while she’s certainly happy to leave some, she's inspired and learns from each. She masquerades as a fortune-teller, nannies in the south of France and works in a home for retired actors; it’s said that variety is the spice of life, but will it bring Ruby lasting happiness?
What a fun read this was! Our heroine was natural and entertaining to read about, her work ethics were admirable - she’d do pretty much any job she was offered and wasn’t afraid to try new things. I liked that she was determined not to fall behind with her mortgage payments but didn’t want to end up in another uninspiring career. It was a relief when, about midway through the novel, Ruby stopped fancying what seemed to be every man she came into contact with. Her behaviour was verging on becoming a little bit desperate which took away somewhat from the likeability of her character!
Ruby certainly met a colourful cast during her escapades. My favourite was undoubtedly Tony, her half deaf co-worker from a Harley Street sexual health clinic: he was so brilliantly inappropriate it was hilarious. Ruby’s grumpy cat Patrick also gave me lots to giggle about.
By contrast, I’m afraid I wasn’t overly enamoured with Ruby’s neighbour and love interest ‘Gorgeous George’: he was a little rough and ready for my liking and seemed too ordinary and uninspiring for Ruby in my opinion.
“Working It Out” had an original storyline, with plenty of scope for fun and adventure, which the author made full use of in Ruby’s escapades. The characterisation was superb and really made the tale stand out for me. May managed to make the most out of every single one of the characters in this book; they were all individual, entertaining and drew me further into the story.
I was concerned that the whole twelve jobs in a year idea would result in the plot feeling very bitty and broken up, but actually it worked well and kept the tale fresh and interesting throughout. The novel was actually a surprisingly quick read, possibly because its pace was so well maintained with a lot going on in the storyline.
“Working It Out” is a self-published book with a very professional finish; I was particularly impressed by its eye-catching cover. The story is a lovely mixture of both the comic and the poignant, and really deserves to reach as wide an audience as possible.
3 and a half stars
'When dynamic, power-dressing Christie blows in like a warm wind to take over their department, five very different women find themselves thrown together at work. But none of them could have predicted the fierce bond of friendship that her leadership would inspire…Anna, 39, is reeling from the loss of her fiance, who ran off with a much younger woman. Her pride in tatters, these days Anna finds it difficult to leave the house. So when a handsome, mysterious stranger takes an interest in her, she’s not sure whether she can learn to trust again? Then there’s Grace, in her fifties, trapped in a loveless marriage with a man she married because, unable to have children of her own, she fell in love with his motherless brood. Grace worries that Dawn is about to make the same mistake: orphaned as a child, engaged to love-rat Calum, is Dawn more interested in the security that comes with his tight-knit, boisterous family? When a sexy, footloose rock singer catches her eye, will Dawn have the courage to follow her heart? At 28, Raychel is the youngest member of their little gang. And with a loving husband, Ben, and a cosy little nest for two, she would seem to be the happiest. But what dark secrets are lurking behind this perfect facade, that make sweet, pretty Raychel so guarded and unwilling to open up? Under Christie’s warm hand, the girls soon realise they have some difficult choices to make. Indeed, none of them quite realised how much they needed the sense of fun, laughter, and loyalty that abounds when five women become friends. It’s one for all, and all for one!'
“A Summer Fling” follows the lives of four women who, in perhaps a first for a chick lit novel, work in the bakery department of a supermarket chain. They’re all a little nervous at the imminent arrival of their new boss Christie but don’t confide their worries to one another, none of them having ever really spoken to each other before, despite working together five days a week. Christie has a huge job ahead to mould them into a team and teach each team member to support and rely on her comrades.
The oldest of our ladies is Grace. In her fifties, she feels stifled by her husband and pressured by him to take early retirement, retirement from the job that provides the only escape from her loveless marriage. Thirty nine year old Anna was devastated when her fiancé left her for a much younger model and now only leaves the house to go to work, spending her time daydreaming about her lost fiancé coming back to her. Dawn, at 33, has been desperate to have a family ever since she was orphaned as a teenager. Engaged to the dreadful Calum and deeply attached to the security she feels this brings, Dawn seems impervious to all of his many, many flaws. The youngest of the women is Raychel, 28, who appears to have a blissful marriage to her childhood sweetheart Ben; but why haven’t they had children, and why is Raychel so quiet and withdrawn?
It took me a chapter or two to get properly immersed in the book, but once I was there I was really hooked: there’s loads of excitement and intrigue, with plenty of secrets to be uncovered as we discover more about the protagonists.
My favourite character was Grace; I felt so sorry for her with her awful husband wanting to permanently whisk her away to a caravan. I loved how her story developed and I thought the relationships between her and her stepchildren were brilliantly dealt with.
Some of the novel’s other great personalities were Dawn’s future family-in-law, who were hilariously awful, and her fiancé, who has to be one of literature’s laziest bums. It’s a true testament to Milly Johnson’s writing that you could really empathise with Dawn and understand why she’d stuck with these awful people for so long – a big, close family was what she felt was missing from her life.
Part of the novel that I particularly enjoyed was Anna’s transformation; not just the physical changes, her care of herself and her smiles, but the mental alterations, how the scars of her fiancé leaving heal. Anna’s love interest, the vampire character, was a little bizarre, but if Milly wants to add a little Gothic vampirism to her text then who am I to complain?
There were some aspects of this book that really made it stand out. I especially felt that making the women differing ages gave the novel a wide appeal and I found it interesting to see events from their various perspectives. I enjoyed having Barnsley as the setting; it gave the story a very different feel to the usual metropolitan chick lit.
This is the first of Milly Johnson’s books that I’ve read, and I’ll be working my way through her back catalogue soon. It contained some brilliantly written characters and the intertwining plots were all captivating. Yes, there were parts of the novel that were a little far-fetched, but what’s wrong with a little escapism eh?
'Vita’s gift shop would do better if she ran it as a business, not as somewhere to daydream. But she’s not one to tell herself off–she leaves that to Tim, her ex, who still co-owns the shop. He cheated on Vita and broke her heart. Could she ever give him another chance? Oliver, an experienced and successful tree surgeon, runs his home as calmly as his business. However, his heart is still with the mother of his child, even though it’s been three years now. He won’t take a chance on love again.
Then a pear tree brings Oliver to Vita, and as spring turns into summer they are given choices and chances. Will they grab them or walk away?'
‘Chances’ begins with leading lady Vita trying unsuccessfully to get over her cheating ex-fiancé Tim, the pair having separated almost a year ago. She isn’t helped by the fact that they own a shop together: as neither is financially able to buy the other out, they’re stuck as business partners.
Our heroine has recently moved into Pear Tree Cottage and is just beginning to feel settled when the fruit of the house’s namesake begins to grow. Grow and attract parakeets. Not only do these birds wake Vita up early each morning, they also cause the fruit to fall drawing a multitude of angry wasps. Vita’s terrified, and in desperation calls upon the services of Oliver Bourne, a widowed tree surgeon. She finds herself falling in love with Oliver, but is she destined to be hurt again, as she once more falls for a man with another woman on his mind- even if this time the lady in question died three years ago?
Oliver’s sorrow over his deceased wife is treated very compassionately: he’ll never forget his wife but is doing his best to move on with his life, something he’s not finding easy. Freya North does a beautiful job of describing how it’s often the simple, everyday things, which can cause the biggest waves of grief.
I liked both the main protagonsists, although I did find Vita a little childish – the woman needs be more decisive and stand up for herself! Childish, but very kind, as we see illustrated by her dealings with the delightfully dotty old lady who regularly pilfers things from her shop.
The character of Oliver’s son, Jonty, was wonderfully written; I really got a feeling of the love and support he gives him father, and of the gap left in his life by the loss of his mother. His encouragement of Vita and Oliver’s romance is very sweet. The scene where Jonty and his dad are cooking their ‘chops and chips’ dinner for Vita is a wonderful example of the great relationship between father and son.
All in all, I do have to say though that I’m a little cross with Ms North at the moment: I had a busy day planned before my copy of this book dropped through my letter box, but thanks to this engaging and compassionate story, my poor children and loving husband were somewhat neglected for the best part of a day and my house remains unhoovered. Thank goodness Freya’s not able to produce a book a week, else my home really would fall apart!
‘Blow Me is the story of three single women - Skylar, Dawn, and Chloe - hovering precariously close to forty, and stuck in a lifestyle that they have long outgrown. Each woman is desperate in her own way to achieve some sense of stability. Skylar, a hairdresser/executive assistant who lost her job and burned down her apartment, is living out of her car; Chloe, a struggling actress/real estate agent with a heavy French Canadian accent who has never sold a house and doesn't have her SAG card, is searching for a way to stay in the United States; and Dawn, an MBA-educated dating service matchmaker who can't find a decent guy, is hedging her bets against the ticking clock by freezing embryos. They haven't achieved any of their goals, their lives are in complete chaos and their only hope is to be rescued through marriage. Situated in the shallow world of Los Angeles, this provocative novel in the style of Sex and the City provides a humorous, edgy look at aging, dating, and being single in the new millennium.’
Skylar, Dawn and Chloe are three women disillusioned with their lives in Los Angeles. They’ve been fed the great LA spiel that you can have it all - great husband, beautiful children, gorgeous house and a fabulous career. Unfortunately approaching forty has brought it home to them that they don’t have any of this.
The reader follows the escapades of these ladies as they attempt to sort out their lives and follow the American dream. For Chloe this means making it as an actress, for Dawn, it’s deciding whether or not to freeze some embryos and Skylar needs a job and a place to live.
All three women have failed to achieve anything in their lives, but seemed determined to blame anyone or anything other than themselves for this fact. I really didn’t like the way they wanted to be ‘rescued’ by men from their problems and debts. All they seemed willing to give in return for this magnamity was their bodies, and they appeared to think that any man should be grateful for this. I couldn’t help but liken them all, but Skylar in particular, to prostitutes. Having said all that, some of their dating adventures were very funny and certainly unexpected!
The friendship between the heroines didn’t quite ring true for me. In fact they really didn’t seem to like one another at all and I couldn’t work out why they were friends at all other than that they were all single. The characters were not at all easy to relate to, and could be very unpleasant, childish and self-centred. Dawn was the most likeable of the three and had some redeeming qualities; I enjoyed reading about her once she started getting her life together.
‘Blow Me’ certainly has an extremely attention grabbing and memorable title, which obviously makes it stand out from the crowd. The storyline, protagonists and relationships were all very superficial which put me off slightly. However, the ladies certainly got up to plenty of amusing mischief and the tale was a very honest portrayal of at least part of the modern dating world, nothing was sugar-coated. The writing flowed well and the book was very readable and rather entertaining, even if I did want to throttle the main characters most of the time. I can imagine ‘Blow Me’ gaining quite the cult following given the chance.
2 and a half stars
"When newly retired headmistress, Harriet Quigley, needs a good rest and somewhere comfortable to recover from a hospital stay, she believes Firstone Grange will be the ideal place. Luxurious and perfectly run by a competent and understanding matron, it seems wonderful at first glance. However, there is a serpent in this paradise and Harriet soon realizes that some of the residents are very frightened. When a particularly horrific death occurs and Harriet finds herself in danger, she calls on her cousin and best friend, the Rev’d Sam Hathaway, and together they attempt to discover the terrible truth… Harriet Quigley is usually reluctant to admit she needs help, but she is sensible enough to ensure that she gets some proper rest after her operation. Consequently she books herself into the very exclusive, and expensive, residential home, Firstone Grange, not wanting to burden anyone whilst she convalesces. It’s not long however before relaxation is the last thing on her mind as one of the other residents dies in what appears to be a tragic accident. Harriet though is sure that she smells foul play and is determined to get to the bottom of her suspicions."
‘Murder Fortissimo’ is a murder mystery in the true spirit of Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple. It contains a fantastic array of personalities, of all different ages and backgrounds: there’s pretty much someone for any reader to find affinity with.
Harriet made a wonderful central character: shrewd and very sharp, but extremely likeable – you can understand why the other characters turn to her for solace and advice. I liked her independent streak and the relationship with her cousin Sam was just lovely.
My favourite by far of the residents of Firstone Grange has got to be Christiane Marchant. She must be one of the best villainesses ever written; I would say she even beats Cruella de Vil! She’s so evil to her poor daughter Alice and so conniving in her tormenting of the other residents – I can’t imagine her ever doing anything that wasn’t in her own self-interest.
The death being investigated is brilliantly gruesome, but as the deceased character was so horrible, the reader can enjoy the blood and gore without any of those annoying twinges of sadness which can sometimes get in the way of enjoying a good murder! You could see motives for so many of the characters to get rid of her, that I honestly had no idea who’d ‘dunnit’ until it was revealed.
I have to admit that I was a little disappointed when discovering the identity of the murderer, and there was a point in the book when I thought it improbable that so many characters would confess their sins to Harriet and her cousin in so short a time, but these minor niggles didn’t hamper my overall enjoyment of what was a very good book.
‘Murder Fortissimo’ is my idea of a really gripping yarn: the reader is kept intrigued right until the end and is entertained throughout by some great characters in a setting just ripe for a decent murder. Thoroughly enjoyable!