2 Mini Reviews: TWISTED by Steve Cavanagh and CLEARING THE DARK by Hania Allen

Goodreads | Book Depository
Published: January 2019 - Constable.
Genres:  Adult / thriller / contemporary.
Pages: 384.
Triggers/Content Advisory: Violence / graphic descriptions. 
Format: Paperback.
Source: Thank you so much to Jonathan Ball SA for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review. I voluntarily read & reviewed this copy. All thoughts are my own.

When DI Dania Gorska is called to investigate the shooting of a young man on a Dundee street, the nail hammered into his forehead suggests that local gangster, Archie McLellan has left his calling card. Clues point to his involvement in an illegal replica firearms venture, a scam that may include other members of the infamous McLellan family.

The chance discovery of human remains buried in the grounds of Breek House, once owned by the McLellans, convinces Dania the two cases must be related. But who was the mysterious tenant of Breek House at the time the bodies were put into the ground? Identifying them is complicated as all the teeth have been removed - post mortem, to prevent identification? Or was the back room at Breek House used by the McLellans as a torture chamber?

As Dania moves closer to discovering what went on at Breek House she disturbs dangerous secrets from the past which threaten the lives of those in the present...

This book is...strange. Strange as in I feel strange, because my feelings for this book are strange. I didn't love it, I didn't dislike it...I just feel it was mediocre? Even that seems too harsh.

The writing is good, but it is hard to read. It takes a while to get into the author's style and the rhythm of the sentences, which is often quite choppy and/or long-winded. Not a deal-breaker, but I wouldn't say it's a smooth read. My favourite aspect of the writing? The dialogue. It's great.

Another great thing about this novel is the setting. It takes place in Scotland, and I loved the atmosphere, the slang, and all the rich cultural touches. I love when a thriller is set somewhere "unconventional" - that is to say, not England or the US.

In terms of plot, it's boring. Not yawn-worthy boring, but definitely slow and more relaxed than most thrillers tend to be. When you're in that mood, it's perfect. But I wasn't. Thus, I was bored. The main positive of the plot, however, is how beautifully and cleverly the mystery ties up at the end.  It's certainly a clever story. 

The characters are interesting. While they're never totally fleshed out or vivid (maybe this could be because I never read the first book?) they are fascinating, especially Dania. I loved what I saw of her personality - especially how she loves music and playing the piano - and her relationship with her brother, Marek, is truly the best part of the book. 

Goodreads | Book Depository
Published: January 2019 - Orion.
Genres: Adult / contemporary / thriller.
Pages: 320.
Triggers/Content Advisory: Violence / sexual innuendo / suicide. 
Format: Paperback.
Source: Thank you so much to Jonathan Ball SA for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review. I voluntarily read & reviewed this copy. All thoughts are my own.

1. The police are looking to charge me with murder.
2. No one knows who I am. Or how I did it.
3. If you think you've found me. I'm coming for you next. 

After you've read this book, you'll know: the truth is far more twisted...

First things first, the writing isn't bad. It's pretty decent and I could have easily endured it if the other aspects of the book had been outstanding. However, the more I read the more the writing bugged me. The dialogue is terribly weak - cliches abound, and it's melodramatic and dry. There's nothing exciting about the way the characters speak to each other, and honestly I'd go as far as to say that I hated the dialogue. It's just so boring. 

Obviously, the big thing about this book is that it's supposed to be twisty. And granted, a few twists took me by surprise. But overall, the plot is not great. It's silly and contrived and I could not suspend disbelief. It felt clumsy and pretentious. There's no elegance or brilliance or "wow moments"; the scenes are sloppy and forced.
There's also the fact that the author is writing a story about a brilliant author, and to me that comes across pretentious.  It's not hard to imagine the author living out his fame fantasy through this story, and even if it's not intentional, it comes across like he's singing his own praises. An author writing about a brilliant author?  That's an embarrassingly obvious parallel.

Another big problem with this story is the lack of heart. The three main characters are dull, dull, and duller, and I could not invest in them. They're flat, they're simplistic, and they're predictable. I didn't care what happened to them and that whacked all the emotion out of the novel.

No comments