For Better and Worse. Margot Hunt

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17 years ago, Natali and William were on their first date. Both Law School students they occupied themselves innocently plotting the perfect murder.

Now happily married, or so Nat thinks, in a seaside town in Florida, they enjoy a Sunday morning on the beach with Charlie, their 11 year old son.

When an emergency meeting is called at Charlies school the perfect life starts to unravel.

Now, as a Criminal Defence Attorney,  Nat has a good knowledge of how the law will treat people who end up being either the accused, or the accuser, and she is not sure which is the worse experience.

She has to protect Charlie, but will her husband want, or be capable, of  helping in any way.

She is sure Will is having an affair, but little does she know the effect it could have on her plans.

This is a great story and uses a clever little trick to really give the reader a terrific ride.

Most of the story is told in the first person by Nat. Her emotions, her interpretations of events, her thoughts.

But a couple of the chapters are written in the first person from Wills point of view. Does he see things like his wife does. The secrets he is keeping from Nat, and how he tries to balance her world with his.

This psychological thriller explores a mother and a father and how far they would go to protect their child. Two very different approaches, two very different ethos, with one aim. Keep Charlie safe.

This is a great story. I loved the way the two main characters have a common need, but both have very different ways of trying to achieve it.

This is no normal husband, wife, combined front. This is two people struggling to find a way to survive a series of events and come out of it in one piece. But one of them has a very different idea of what that should be achieved.

This is the first Margot Hunt book I’ve read. It definitely won’t be the last.

Pages: 384

Publisher: Mira Books

Publishing Date UK: 11th December 2018.

Searching For Pilar Patricia Hunt Holmes

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Wow, what a story.

The book starts with Pilar (19) happily married to Alejandro and looking after their 9 month old daughter. Life in San Jose is perfect for the young, happily married mother.

Then her husband loses his job and struggles to find work. Answering an advert for a well paid clerical job Pilar goes to Mexico City for an interview.

That’s when things go badly wrong. Kidnapped and forced into the sex trade Pilar fights for survival, and not just hers, she takes the young girls kidnapped with her under her protection and swears to get them through the ordeal alive.

Meanwhile the one member of her family who knew where she was going is riddled with guilt. Diego, her brother, gave her a lift and left her in the city to go and watch a football team train. When he returned to pick her up she wasn’t there.

The story splits between Pilar’s captivity and Diego’s attempts to find his sister.

Pilar’s story is horrific, but must be reminiscent of so many poor people.

Diego’s story is a tale of love, dedication, and determination.

No spoilers so I’m not going to say how this ends.

This is a great story and I really enjoyed it. I have seen some other reviews which have mentioned the fact that it includes the rape of two young girls, and sexual violence to the main character aged 19 when we first meet her. Yes, these small paragraphs are in the book, but they are written in a way that is not overly graphic or shocking. Yes, it is a horrific subject, but it is dealt with well by Patricia Hunt Holmes, and in my opinion the story needs this to reflect the true horrors of the people smuggling and sex trade, that unfortunately exists across the globe.

Well done Patricia for using this book to bring it into the spotlight.

Pages: 322

Publishers: River Grove Books

Available on Amazon

Mississippi Burning Greg Isles

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As a white, 1960’s born, British man, I am vaguely aware of the problems that America had in the 60’s, with particularly the Southern states struggling with integration. I’ve read books which have mentioned the KKK and other white supremacist groups, but never have I read a series of books which bring home the problems that were, and are still being, encountered in these areas.

Greg Isle has written series of books set around the happenings of Natchez, a small town on the Mississippi. There are 6 books which use the town as a backdrop, and all of them include the same list of central characters at their core. The final three have been categorised as “The Natchez Burning” Trilogy. All six of the books are great reads. The Trilogy is the natural progression from the first three, the final book in the series Mississippi Blood is simply stunning in the way it concludes this epic series of books.

Set a few weeks after the traumatic end of The Bone Tree, Penn Cage, the Major of Natchez, is still shocked by the fact that his girlfriend has been killed, and that his father is in prison. For years Dr Tom Cage has fought for the rights of the black people in his town. He has been the sworn enemy of a vicious group of white men known as The Double Eagles, and one of their main leaders, and original members, Snake Knox is still at large.

Tom is charged with murdering his one-time lover Viola Turner, with who he has recently found out he has a son, Lincoln.

Lincoln is out for revenge on the man who he now see’s as being responsible for his wayward upbringing. He will do anything to ensure his “father” is punished.

The corrupt County Sheriff, Billy Byrd is in cahoots with Snake Knox, and the local prosecutor Shadrach Johnson has been a violent opponent of Dr Cages for years, so the odds of him getting a fair trial seem very slim.

Whilst Penn tries everything in his power to uncover evidence against others to incriminate them in the murder of Viola, Dr Tom seems intent on self-destruction.

Hiring one of his best friends, Quentin Avery, the best defence lawyers in the south, Dr Tom opts for an unorthodox approach to his defence.

As an ex-prosecutor Penn is driven to distraction by his father’s tactics, but Tom and Avery won’t explain their tactics to him.

The trial is almost farcical as the prosecution and defence ignore all the rules, and the Judge decides to give enough leeway for them both to go head-to-head in an epic court room battle.

The trial lasts for 4 days but during that time pressure is put on both sides by outside influences including Snake Knox, the FBI, and a gang of bikers known as the VK’s.

People are threatened, assaulted, murdered. Old alliances are destroyed and new ones made. Family members on both sides suffer. Penn struggles to keep his family alive outside of the courtroom, and together inside it.

History of Dr Toms past comes out in the trial, history that his family are not aware of, and it has the potential to tear them apart.

New characters come, and go, but they all add to the plot. Not one word of the 702 pages is wasted.

This book would be hard to read as a stand-alone novel; and to be honest I wouldn’t recommend you read it as one. I would recommend all of the other books as some of the best I have ever read.

The first two chapters of this book include news articles which are there as a reminder of what happened in the The Bone Tree & Natchez Burning. As a quick catch-up they are great but they do not replace the actual books.

Throughout Mississippi Burning the reader is taken back to past events in the trilogy and the other 3 books in the series.

In all the books I have ever read, this is the most compelling series I have read.

If you like John Grisham, but with less filters, you will love these books.

If you are looking for a set of books to keep you occupied for a couple of months I’d recommend reading all six, one after another. But if you do, you will have one hell of a void to fill when you finish.

I actually wish I was the 18 year-old me, In my cabin on a merchant tanker with nothing to fill the off duty hours but read books. I would sit and read the lot back-back.

I hope this is not the end of the Natchez books. I’ve loved every page.