Today I’m delighted to share my thoughts on The Cove by LJ Ross, the first book in her brand new Summer Suspense Mystery series which is released in paperback on Tuesday but is available in ebook right now. Here’s what the book is all about:
About the Book
THE PERFECT ESCAPE…
Gabrielle Adams has it all – brains, beauty, a handsome fiancé, and a dream job in publishing. Until, one day, everything changes.
‘The Tube Killer’ takes his victims when they least expect it: standing on the edge of a busy London Underground platform, as they wait for a train to arrive through the murky underground tunnels of London.
Gabrielle soon learns that being a survivor is harder than being a victim, and she struggles to return to her old life. Desperate to break free from the endless nightmares, she snatches up an opportunity to run a tiny bookshop in a picturesque cove in rural Cornwall.
She thinks she’s found the perfect escape, but has she swapped one nightmare for another?
Suspense and mystery are peppered with romance and humour in this fast-paced thriller, set amidst the spectacular Cornish landscape.
If you are looking for a character led Christie-esque summer mystery which is laced with romance, wild and beautiful settings and with an undercurrent of tension and threat then this book will be right up your street. Whilst quite different from the DCI Ryan and Dr Alexander Gregory books, it contains all the hallmarks of LJ Ross’s beautiful style of writing and ability to bring a location to life, as well as a healthy dose of the romance and humour which we have come to love in her other series. There may also be an occasional nod to her other series which fans of the author will instantly recognise.
The opening chapter of the book took me a little by surprise. Here I am expecting a nice cosy Cornish mystery packed with cream teas and the occasional surfer and yet we’re immediately drawn into the complicated life of our protagonist, Gabrielle, or Gabi, and a scene which will put the wind up any frequent travellers on the old London Underground. What occurs is shocking, but spine-tinglingly believable and sets us up nicely for all that comes to follow. I loved the sense of fun and humour which is detailed in this chapter as whilst it is quite a dark opening, there are touches which will bring a smile to your face, including the name of the fictional publisher that Gabi works for, and even some of the characters who we meet in these early pages. A bit of an in joke and a nod to the potential excesses and snobbery of the literary elite, but it did make me chuckle.
After this startling opening we, and Gabi, are quickly transported to Cornwall and a remote bookshop hidden away in a Carnance Cove which is only accessible at low tide. So far so perfect. And the setting is just what Gabi needs after her traumatic experience in the capital. LJ Ross sets the scene perfectly, bringing the sights, sounds, and almost the smells too, of the Cornish coast to life, placing readers front and centre in the resort. It felt so real I just wanted to go right there and even started really hankering after a wonderful Cornish escape of my own. This is one of the author’s key skills, making the setting seem real and making it a true part of the story, a character in its own right.
Speaking of characters, there is a wonderful and varied mix of people that are brought into Gabi’s life. From bookshop owner, Nell and her casanova son, Jackson, to Gabi’s new neighbours, Pat and Jude, each one of them felt welcoming and I liked them instantly. Then there is Luke. Seemingly a touch reticent at first, and hardly forthcoming with the chat, it is clear there is a chemistry between him and Gabi, but each has a reason to be cautious, something which is carefully explored as the story evolves. Yes, there is romance on the cards, just as the blurb suggests, but this is what makes the books a pleasure to read. It makes a nice change to step away and find a small corner of happy in amongst the tension and trials of the crime genre. LJ Ross brings together a sense of community, friendship and support, something the world certainly needs a lot of right now.
This is a heartwarming and upbeat book and will certainly leave you with a warm glow, but it wouldn’t be a summer suspense if it was all sweetness and light and that ominous opening does give a hint of the darker scenes to come. Echoed by the weather, there is a storm brewing and a real mystery to unravel, one which is perhaps dampened by the fact that the only witness to a potential crime is also somewhat of an unreliable witness. There is every reason to question whether Gabi really saw what she believes, or whether her mind is playing tricks on her, but the more invested she becomes in the mystery, the more you believe she is telling the truth. But there are darker scenes, and plenty of surprises to come, as well as a healthy dose of misdirection and suspicion as Gabi starts to wonder just how well she really knows her new friends.
A fabulous read that I devoured in a few hours. I’m intrigued to see where LJ Ross takes us next and what new mysteries she will bring for for our reading pleasure. Definitely recommended.
About the Author
LJ Ross is an international bestselling author, best known for creating atmospheric mystery and thriller novels, including the DCI Ryan series of Northumbrian murder mysteries which have sold over 6 million copies worldwide.
Her debut, Holy Island, was released in January 2015 and reached number one in the Amazon UK and Australian charts. Since then, she has released a further twenty novels, all of which have been top three global bestsellers and seventeen of which have been UK #1 bestsellers. Louise has garnered an army of loyal readers through her storytelling and, thanks to them, several of her books reached the coveted #1 spot whilst only available to pre-order ahead of release.
In addition to her DCI Ryan series, Louise has created a new series of thriller novels based around the central character of ‘Dr Alexander Gregory’, whose work as a psychological profiler takes him around the world. The first three books (Impostor, Hysteria and Bedlam) were #1 bestsellers and were narrated in audio by the actors Hugh Dancy (Impostor & Hysteria) and Richard Armitage (Bedlam). She is also writing several standalone romantic suspense novels featuring strong female protagonists which will be available in 2021.
Louise was born in Northumberland, England. She studied undergraduate and postgraduate Law at King’s College, University of London and then abroad in Paris and Florence. She spent much of her working life in London, where she was a lawyer for a number of years until taking the decision to change career and pursue her dream to write. Now, she writes full-time and lives with her husband and son in Northumberland, where she enjoys reading all manner of books, travelling and spending time with family and friends.
Louise is a keen philanthropist, and is pleased to have supported numerous non-profit programmes in addition to founding several of her own, including the Lindisfarne Reading Challenge and the Lindisfarne Prize for Debut Crime Fiction.