Today I am sharing my thoughts on One For Sorrow, the brand new Callanach and Turner thriller from Helen Fields. I love this series, have been completely and utterly drawn into their world over the past six books and couldn’t wait to get stuck into this one. My thanks to publisher Avon Books for providing the advance copy for review via Netgalley. I think … Here’s what the book is about:
About the Book
One for sorrow, two for joy
Edinburgh is gripped by the greatest terror it has ever known. A lone bomber is targeting victims across the city and no one is safe.
Three for a girl, four for a boy
DCI Ava Turner and DI Luc Callanach face death every day – and not just the deaths of the people being taken hostage by the killer.
Five for silver, six for gold
When it becomes clear that with every tip-off they are walking into a trap designed to kill them too, Ava and Luc know that finding the truth could mean paying the ultimate price.
Seven for a secret never to be told…
But with the threat – and body count – rising daily, and no clue as to who’s behind it, neither Ava nor Luc know whether they will live long enough to tell the tale…
With twists and turns you’ll never see coming, prepare to be gripped by this devastatingly good thriller. Perfect for fans of Stuart MacBride and MJ Arlidge.
You know those books that really make a mark? The ones that you just can’t switch off from and that linger in your mind for a good while afterwards? Where the books is so intense and unforgettable that you just power through it with all your nerves on edge just preparing yourself for the next shock? Well that was One For Sorrow for me. It started with an ‘awww – can’t believe you did that’, progressed to a ‘awww – did you have to do that?’ by the midway point and ended in an almighty ‘OMFG – WHAT DID YOU JUST DO???”
Now, Helen Fields has never been one to shy away from the tense and dramatic in her novels, and the ‘Perfect’ series has some very memorable and sometimes macabre scenes, but if you thought that what has gone before was shocking, you have seen nothing yet. From the very beginning we are faced with a story that will provoke a rollercoaster of emotions, especially if, like me, you are big fan of the series and have become invested in all of the characters. You may think you know, but trust me – you know nothing. It is not just our favourite detecting team who are tested in this book. As readers we are taken to the very edge with a case that is set to rock Edinburgh to its very core. And it ruddy well shook me too.
Now I don’t want to say too much about the plot. The blurb tells you all you need to know. And yes, it is every bit as dramatic as the blurb suggests. A terrorist attack, the like of which the city has never seen, but as to perpetrator or motive – the police are clueless. The killer taunts them, providing just enough notice and clues to cause maximum devastation – and devastate it does. Helen Fields has played a very clever game as whilst the reasons behind these attacks may remain hidden from Luc and Ava, they are slowly being revealed to us as readers in slow and almost painful fashion. This is a story in two halves. The first part – the main part of the story – is the terror that holds the residents of Edinburgh in its thrall. The second part alerts us to the motive – maybe.
But nothing is that straightforward. When I thought I knew the who, perhaps the why, I still had my resolve, my absolute certainty shaken, and my thoughts and feelings were turned on their head more than once. This secondary story is truly authentic, tragic in its own way, and almost as nerve wracking as the attacks on the city. Certainly by the time this part of the story reached its conclusion my emotions were heightened, and I couldn’t help but shed a tear for all that had happened. The author has done a brilliant job of pulling us into this story. For making us as emotionally invested in it as we are shocked and broken by the main investigation. I was conflicted. Sympathetic and yet still angry, but not always in the ways you might expect.
Now the tone of this book is very melancholic and, at times, very dark. It is packed with tension, and the emotional pull and impact of the case upon the characters is almost palpable. You can feel their anger, their loss and their determination. And not just between Callanach and Ava. I love the whole team in these book, and each of them, even the brusk and often objectionable Overbeck, has a real part to play in the story. But this book really belongs to Ava as she struggles to come to terms with what is happening all around her and the sense of futility that everything she does to try and protect the city still is not enough.
If you have read Helen Fields’ last novel, The Shadow Man, then you may well recognise one of the guest characters in the book. It was great to see Connie Woolwine pop up to provide some well needed insight into the mind of the killer, something that worked to reinforce my assertions about the who, if not wholly the what. She is a quirky character, but I do love her direct style and forthright attitude. She gives Callanach some much needed guidance, and not just into the case, perhaps allowing him the room to lay some old demons to rest. Even Lively seems to appreciate her style, and he is no easy character to win over.
This is the first book not to feature ‘perfect’ in the title, and that makes sense as there is a real change in tone in this book. It is every bit as thrilling and pacey and intense as its predecessors, but you can feel something just a little … different about it. It’s hard to put a finger on it, but there is no doubt by the end of the book that nothing can or will be the same.
And talking of the end … My god. What the hell? I am … I went to sleep thinking about this book. My waking thoughts were about the book. The if onlys and they why didn’t theys of the story. Had one single thing been slightly different … If a certain character hadn’t made that choice … And I know that these are just characters in a book. It’s not real. But the emotions I was left with after reading this book were so intense, for so many different reasons, that I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I think every author of a long running series has that book to write. The one that changes everything. The one that heightens the emotions, grabs your attention and makes your jaw drop. This is that book. And if you love this series, love the characters, I am sure you will feel the same.
And because it left such an impression, I absolutely have to award it one of these. The red hot read award. I may be too scared to see what, if anything, comes next, but I can’t deny this is probably the best book in the series to date. Dark, intense, full of action and emotional in all the best and worst of ways. Highly recommended.
About the Author
Helen Fields’ first love was drama and music. From a very young age she spent all her free time acting and singing until law captured her attention as a career path. She studied law at the University of East Anglia, then went on to the Inns of Court School of Law in London.
After completing her pupillage, she joined chambers in Middle Temple where she practised criminal and family law for thirteen years. Undertaking cases that ranged from Children Act proceedings and domestic violence injunctions, to large scale drug importation and murder, Helen spent years working with the police, CPS, Social Services, expert witnesses and in Courts Martials.
After her second child was born, Helen left the Bar. Together with her husband David, she went on to run Wailing Banshee Ltd, a film production company, acting as script writer and producer.
Helen self-published two fantasy books as a way of testing herself and her writing abilities. She enjoyed the creative process so much that she began writing in a much more disciplined way, and decided to move into the traditional publishing arena through an agent.
Perfect Remains is set in Scotland, where Helen feels most at one with the world. Edinburgh and San Francisco are her two favourite cities, and she travels whenever she can.
Beyond writing, she has a passion for theatre and cinema, often boring friends and family with lengthy reviews and critiques. Taking her cue from her children, she has recently taken up karate and indoor sky diving. Helen and her husband now live in Hampshire with their three children and two dogs.