Today Mandie and I are being a little different. We both love supporting the Quick Reads initiative from The Reading Agency and have bought a few of the books over the past couple of years. Christmas and New Year seemed as good a time as any to play catch up on some of those books so we’ve got mini reviews of four of the many Quick Reads titles on offer – Darkness Rising, The Donor, Wish You Were Dead and Too Good To Be True. Read on to find out more about the books.
About the Book
Detective Inspector Harry Virdee has a lot on his plate. His team is facing government cuts, tensions are building between Bradford’s two rival drugs gangs and his wife Saima is due to give birth any day now.
So when bodies start turning up in the old industrial district, the pressure is on to get the case wrapped up as quickly as possible, or risk a full-scale gang war.
But the man behind the murders is ruthless and pushy. And things are getting personal. Harry must think fast and bend the rules if he wants to keep his city, and his family, safe . . .
I have been meaning to read the Harry Virdee series for a while now and I can safely say that this short offering has only whet my appetite more. There is a new face on the drugs scene in Bradford, someone who seems determined to get Harry on the payroll. But Harry is a. very principled man and not for turning … Fast paced and full of threat, it is clear that Harry. is not a man to be messed with, but for whom his wife and job are his world. I enjoyed getting to know a little bit about Harry, his family dynamic, the very nature of the man at the heart of the story, but also learning more about Harry’s Bradford. The tension really tapped into all I love about crime fiction and it made me hungry for a full length offering. For an intro to the series and to engage new readers to the genre, this is definitely a lovely short, sharp shock of a read that I highly recommend.
About the Author
A.A. Dhand was raised in Bradford and spent his youth observing the city from behind the counter of a small convenience store. After qualifying as a pharmacist, he worked in London and travelled extensively before returning to Bradford to start his own business and begin writing. The history, diversity and darkness of the city have inspired his Harry Virdee novels.
About the Book
She gave you everything. But what does she want in return?
When Lizzie’s daughter Meg is given a life-saving heart transplant, Lizzie feels hugely grateful to the nameless donor. Then she receives a letter from the donor’s mother, Karen, asking to meet, and it seems like the least she can do.
But as soon as Karen is welcomed into their lives, Lizzie feels something isn’t right. And before long, she can’t help but worry that by inviting Karen in, she might have put Meg in danger . . .
I am not sure what I expected from this short story by Clare Mackintosh, but she has given an interesting twist to organ donation and what happens in the aftermath.
When Lizzie’s daughter does an interview about her heart transplant they are contacted by Karen who claims to be the mother of the person who’s heart she received. As she slowly implants herself in their lives alarm bells start to ring and the events that follow show that not everything is as it seems and there can be very good reasons why donors and recipients are kept apart, and all information is confidential.
Despite all that happens you do feel some sympathy for Karen but as things escalate you really just want her to see the truth and seek help. With plenty of emotion in every page this is one short story worth picking up.
About the Author
Clare Mackintosh is the multi-award winning author of five Sunday Times bestselling novels. Translated into forty languages, her books have sold more than two million copies worldwide, have been New York Times and international bestsellers and have spent a combined total of 64 weeks in the Sunday Times bestseller chart. Clare lives in North Wales with her husband and their three children.
About the Book
Wish You Were Dead is a Quick Read short story from bestselling author Peter James.
Roy Grace and his family have left Sussex behind for a week’s holiday in France. The website promised a grand house, but when they arrive the place is very different from the pictures. And it soon becomes clear that their holiday nightmare is only just beginning.
An old enemy of Roy, a lowlife criminal he had put behind bars, is now out of jail – and out for revenge. He knows where Roy and his family have gone on holiday. Of course he does. He’s been hacking their emails – and they are in the perfect spot for him to pay Roy back . . .
Having never read any books written by Peter James I thought that wish You Were Dead, a short story published as part of the quick reads series would be a good place to start.
When DS Roy Grace takes his family on holiday to a picturesque chateau in France they are all hoping for a nice relaxing break. When they get there nothing is as described and one of their group has gone missing. With dodgy electrics and no phone signal things start to get sinister and everyone is soon in danger. For a story of only 97 pages this did not disappoint with regards to action and pace as DS Grace raced to ensure everyone safety and find his missing friend.
As it was set away from the police station and everything he would have to hand it gives the reader a better insight into the man himself making you warm to him probably quicker than you would in a full-length book. Now that I have dipped my toe into the writings of Peter James I am certain that I will be hunting out the back catalogue to see what I have missed.
About the Author
Known for his fast-paced and gripping stories that thrust regular people into extraordinary situations, Peter James has proven himself to be one of the world’s most successful writers, delivering number one bestsellers time and time again. His Superintendent Roy Grace books have been translated into 37 languages with worldwide sales of over 21 million copies and 17 number one Sunday Times Bestsellers. His latest Roy Grace novel, Find Them Dead spent seven weeks at number one in 2020. The first two novels in the Roy Grace series, Dead Simple and Looking Good Dead, have been adapted for television by Endeavour’s Russell Lewis and the first episode aired on 14th March 2021.
About the Book
Too Good To Be True is a gripping Quick Read from Ann Cleeves, featuring Detective Inspector Jimmy Perez from the bestselling Shetland series.
When young teacher Anna Blackwell is found dead in her home, the police think her death was suicide or a tragic accident. After all, Stonebridge is a quiet country village in the Scottish Borders, where murders just don’t happen.
But Detective Inspector Jimmy Perez soon arrives from far-away Shetland when his ex-wife, Sarah, asks him to look into the case. The local gossips are saying that her new husband, Tom, was having an affair with Anna. Could Tom have been involved with her death? Sarah refuses to believe it – but needs proof.
Anna had been a teacher. She must have loved kids. Would she kill herself knowing there was nobody to look after her daughter? She had seemed happier than ever before she died. And to Perez, this suggests not suicide, but murder . . .
True to form, I’ve never read any of the Shetland series by Ann Cleeves, and whilst it may have given me a greater insight into the life of protagonist Jimmy Perez, it didn’t affect my enjoyment of this story. It’s a slow building mystery, with Perez really out on a limb. After agreeing to look into the death of his ex wife’s neighbour, and having no ties to the area, or authority to really be investigating, all odds are against him being able to get to the truth. It’s a potential murder mystery, or maybe a suicide, but with only a couple of days to work it out either way, Perez is going to have to work fast.
I loved the way in which the tension builds, in which Perez slowly ingratiates himself amongst the key suspects in the case, and you feel the atmosphere thickening and the threat increasing as we meet each new suspect. Even in the few short pages I got a good sense of Perez as a character and it has made me curious to read more. It’s a quick but satisfying read, that kept me intrigued and guessing right to the end. Definitely recommended.
About the Author
Ann Cleeves is the author of over thirty critically acclaimed novels, and in 2017 was awarded the highest accolade in crime writing, the CWA Diamond Dagger. She is the creator of popular detectives Vera Stanhope and Jimmy Perez who can now be found on television in ITV’s Vera and BBC One’s Shetland. The TV series and the books they are based on have become international sensations, capturing the minds of millions worldwide.
Ann worked as a probation officer, bird observatory cook, and auxiliary coastguard before she started writing. She is a member of ‘Murder Squad’, working with other British northern writers to promote crime fiction. Ann is also a passionate champion for libraries and was a National Libraries Day Ambassador in 2016. Ann lives in North Tyneside near where the Vera books are set.
About The Reading Agency & Quick Reads
The Reading Agency is a national charity that tackles life’s big challenges through the proven power of reading. We work closely with partners to develop and deliver programmes for people of all ages and backgrounds. The Reading Agency is funded by Arts Council England. www.readingagency.org.uk
Quick Reads, a programme by The Reading Agency, aims to bring the pleasures and benefits of reading to everyone, including the one in three adults in the UK who do not regularly read for pleasure, and the one in six adults in the UK who find reading difficult. The scheme changes lives and plays a vital role in addressing the national crisis around adult literacy in the UK, engaging the one in three adults who do not regularly read for pleasure and the one in six adults who find reading difficult. Each year, Quick Reads works with UK publishers to commission high profile authors to write short, engaging books that are specifically designed to be easy to read. Since 2006, over 6 million books have been distributed through the initiative, 5 million library loans (PLR) have been registered and through outreach work hundreds of thousands of new readers each year have been introduced to the joys and benefits of reading. From 2020 – 2022, the initiative is supported by a philanthropic gift from bestselling author Jojo Moyes. The titles are available for just £1 at bookshops and are free to borrow from libraries. They are used across the country in colleges, prisons, trade unions, hospitals, and adult learning organisations.