The Music of the Deep by Elizabeth Hall #bookreview @AmazonPub #TheMusicOfTheDeep #NetGalley

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The Music of the Deep


“Fleeing an abusive marriage and tormented by her past, Alexandra Turner finds solace in a small coastal town on Puget Sound and a job with a local marine biologist studying orcas.

After befriending a group of locals, Alex learns that she has moved to a place that has a reputation of being the “most haunted town in Washington.” Such superstitions would be easy to dismiss…if Alex wasn’t already on edge.

Haunted by shreds of memories of her days with her husband, Alex can’t keep from looking over her shoulder. As unexplained sounds and scents accumulate and unnerving forces seem to take hold, Alex is beginning to believe that she’s not escaping her ghosts, after all. In fact, she might finally be inviting them in.”

Today is publication day for this book, so I am happy to be sharing my review of it with you all as it launches to the wider world, and it is definitely worth picking up. I’m not sure why this title caught my eye on NetGalley as it is not by an author I know – serendipity or more supernatural forces at work? Whatever it was, am I glad it did, as I raced through it in 24 hours and enjoyed every minute.

It is a very hard book to categorise – part ghost story, part nature tale, part women’s fiction – an unusual blend that had the potential to be a jarring mashup but the writer has woven the different elements together very skilfully to make a compelling narrative that had me gripped to the last page.

It follows the stories of three different women. We meet the central character, Alex, as she arrives in the tiny town of Copper Cove on a small island in the Puget Sound on a dark day in December. She is ostensibly there to assist a local woman, Maggie, catalogue the years of research she has done into the local population of orcas, but we soon find out that her story is more about what she is running from than where she is running to. To add to Alex’s tension, Maggie is hiding her own secrets, and her neighbour, Emmie Porter (rumoured to be the local witch due to her amazing powers with animals) is somehow involved. To further add to the tension, Alex is staying alone in a large old house on a hill on the outskirts of a town rumoured to be the most haunted town in Washington State…

The author sets up the story in its location very well. The tiny town, distant from land and civilisation, in the dark days of winter, is suitably claustrophobic and menacing enough to compound Alex’s already well-honed sense of dread and the secrets she gradually unveils grow increasingly creepy. During the last fifth of the book, I was sat up in bed, my heart thumping, ripping through the pages to find out what was going to happen – it really is a page turner.

The story gradually unveils the back story of the three women in a series of flashbacks which work very effectively, gradually pulling in to a point where they start to interweave and finally explode as one at the culmination of the book; it is very skilfully done and the characters are thoroughly drawn and believable, even as parts of the plot are asking you to suspend your disbelief beyond the every day.

One of the main reasons I picked up this book in the first place, and where it did not disappoint was to do with the setting. The Pacific Northwest is an area that holds a particular fascination for me and this book has only increased my longing to visit. The setting lends itself perfectly to the storyline, and the author does an amazing job of placing us firmly in the centre of the landscape. You don’t need to flex your imagination too hard to be able to picture the island, the town, the water and the natural phenomena she describes. I have a particular fondness for members of the oceanic dolphin family and this books blends a lot of interesting information about them into the plot seamlessly.

The book isn’t perfect. I would have liked a little more description about the town itself. To a degree the ending felt a little rushed and there was a flurry of ‘coincidences’ and happenings in the denouement which stretched credibility to the very furthest point of acceptability within the confines of what I believe the book was trying to be. However, all in all this was a great read. I thoroughly enjoyed it and I would recommend it without reservation. I doubt anyone who picks it up will regret the time they invest in it.

The Music of the Deep is out now and you can buy a copy The Music of the Deep: A Novel“>here.

Thank you to Lake Union Publishing and NetGalley for the copy of this book which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

About the Author

Born in San Jose, California, Elizabeth Hall has spent most of her life in the mountains of Colorado. She has worked as a teacher and communications consultant, including hosting, writing, and producing the radio show Heart of the West. She has two grown children. She is the bestselling author of Miramont’s Ghost and In the Blue Hour and now resides on an island in the Pacific Northwest, where she indulges in the fiber arts and keeps an eye out for whales.

The Boardwalk Trust by Avery Duff #bookreview (@AveryDuffAuthor) @AmazonPub #TheBoardWalkTrust #NetGalley

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“With the flawless sky above and the boardwalk below, Robert Worth has set up shop on Venice Beach with an eye on Delfina Famosa, his unexpected first client. A whip-smart homeless kid, Delfina reaches out to Robert to keep her father, Teo, out of trouble. The pair claim to be beneficiaries of the seven-figure Famosa trust, and Delfina wants him to have their backs in court. But in a city of illusions, nothing is what it first appears to be.

Robert should be taking his own advice—always keep his professional distance. Yet every sharp turn and revealed secret draws him closer to his clients. And the closer he gets, the greater the danger.

All he wants now is for everyone to get what they deserve. For some, he hopes it’s not too late. For others—they won’t even see him coming.”

This novel is the second in the author’s Beach Lawyer series. Regular readers of my blog will recall that I was quite critical of the first novel in the series, Beach Lawyer which was also the author’s debut. I am really pleased to say that I enjoyed this latest book much more. The majority of the issues I had with the first book do not recur in this one, and you can see how much the authors has developed in his writing.

The second novel still focuses on Robert Worth, who has left his slick law firm and set up practice on a table on the Venice Beach boardwalk, helping the needy of the neighbourhood. Not the most lucrative of business, but after his big success at the end of the previous novel, he is currently solvent and able to take on the seemingly simple case of a query into a family trust for a troubled dad and his daughter currently living in their van. Obviously, things turn out to be more complicated than they first seem, and this is the meat of the story.

There were a few things for me which made this a better story this time around. Firstly, there was none of the minutiae of legal practice discussed in this book, which dragged the first book to a crawl in the early chapters. Duff has managed to fold the legal explanation necessary for the plot much more smoothly and succinctly into the narrative this time around, so it doesn’t interrupt the momentum and flow of the story.

Secondly, the plot itself is a lot more straightforward, easier to follow and far less convoluted than the last time. I wasn’t lost in the twists of turns of who was who and was was what and having to go back and try and catch up on the constant switching as in the last book, which again broke up the momentum and stopped me getting engrossed in the last book.

The third, and most major improvement, was in the warmth of the characters in this book. Last time, none of the characters had my sympathy and I just really did not care what happened. This is a major failing in any novel. This time, both the main characters of Robert and Gina were much more likeable and just, human, in a way they weren’t before and I was far more invested in their success this time around. In addition, his new clients, Delfina and Teo Famaosa were appealing from the start and I was immediately rooting for them in a way that was impossible with the characters from the last instalment, who were mostly unpleasant. I really wanted things to turn out well for all the main players here, and their plight kept me turning the pages until the end.

There is plenty of action and devilment to liven up the plot throughout and keep you on the edge of your seat, much more so than in the first book where it was all shoe-horned in at the end, a vast improvement.

This novel still has its issues. The first chapter could have done with some serious editing. It contained too many cliches and practically the whole list of ‘Things You Should Never Do When Writing’. I feared that I was going to be disappointed again, but once I pushed on through the opening pages, it improved quickly and hugely, so this was obviously an anomaly. The other main problem comes at the end, where I fear the main plot twist comes too late, and then there is a mad rush to get everything explained before he runs out of chapters. It is a pacing problem that still needs looking at. However, these problems did not hugely detract from my enjoyment of the book and I would recommend it to friends who enjoy legal thrillers. Plus, I will definitely read the next in the series, and there cannot be a better endorsement than that.

The Boardwalk Trust is out on 17 April 2018 and you can pre-order a copy  here

Thank you to Thomas & Mercer and NetGalley for the copy of this book which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

About the Author

Avery Duff was born in Chattanooga, Tennessee, where he attended Baylor School and graduated summa cum laude. After graduating Phi Beta Kappa from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, he earned a JD from Georgetown University Law Center and joined a prestigious Tennessee law firm, where he became a partner in five years. Duff’s screenwriting credits include the 2010 heist drama Takers, starring Matt Dillon, Idris Elba, Paul Walker, T.I., Jay Hernandez, Zoe Saldana, Michael Ealy, and Hayden Christensen. Avery Duff lives at the beach in Los Angeles and spends his time writing fiction. His first novel, Beach Lawyer, was an Amazon Charts Most Read and Most Sold book.