We’ve all dreamt of an escape from our everyday lives, to live somewhere that we would usually holiday in and enjoy that holiday feeling permanently. The reliable sunny weather, the sea, the cheap cost of living and maybe the chance to reinvent yourself or to become ‘someone’ in a place no one knows you. Every year, many Brits and Irish retirees move to Spain and Portugal, to enjoy perpetual summers and a relaxed style of living. Fair play to them. I’ve had that daydream myself. The realistic among us, know, however, that its very hard to become a new person. Most of the time our history, personality traits and issues would catch up with us.
This month’s first book review has a subtitle of ‘it can be dangerous out in the sun’. This may be especially true due to Covid 19 being still highly prevalent. Prior to the pandemic my main concerns would’ve been limited to sunburn and sunstroke, but this book has Spain’s Costa Del Crime as a much scarier scenario. Its Thirty One Bones by Morgan Cry and published by Polygon (www.polygonbooks.co.uk) in June this year.
Daniella Coulson travels to Spain following the death of her mother Effie. Mother and daughter have become estranged and Daniella is surprised to discover her mother has been a well-respected member of a small ex-pat community of misfits who frequent her mother’s bar. There were many secrets in Effie’s life, however. She and her friends had been plotting a multi-million-pound property scam before her death and now the money is missing. The ex-pats all have their own, sometime desperate need for their share of the cash. There’s also a local detective, who is investigating Effie’s death and a local enforcer who has heard about the missing cash. Danielle must race against time to find the cash and avoid having thirty-one bones in her body broken.
This is a real roller-coaster of a story. Danielle is a stranger to the location and to her mother’s life. She arrives in Spain, planning to quickly resolve her mother’s affairs, sell up and move on. The ensuing drama gives Danielle an insight into her mother’s life and her own strengths and weaknesses.
The cast of ex-pats are sometimes likeable, sometimes sad, sometimes funny but all initially at least, hostile to Danielle. The plot is farcical with crosses, double-crosses, chases and secrets. There’s also a romance and a lot of dark humour. You can almost taste the desperation and feel the heat.
Effie seems to have been a wily lady. Is Danielle a chip off the old block? She’s a sympathetic character. The story is told mainly in the first person, but interspersed there are chapters with interviews, held by the detective, of each of the participants in the drama. These actually became some of my favourite sections. I loved the descriptions of the heat, the town and the buildings too but the characters were the best thing in the book, funny, scary and with a deft touch of pathos to make you like them despite everything.
This is Scottish author Gordon Brown (www.gordonjbrown.com)eith eighth book, the others include three in the Craig McIntyre series – Darkest Thoughts(2017), Furthest Reaches (2017), Deepest Wounds (2018). Two in the Charlie Wiggs series – Falling(2009) and Falling Too (2017). Thirty One Bones is his first writing under the pen name of Morgan Cry. Born in Glasgow, he’s lived in London as well as Toronto before returning home. His most significant day job was a marketing strategy specialist, before going on to help found Scotland’s international crime writing festival, Bloody Scotland. He’s been a DJ on a local radio station, sold non-alcoholic beer in the middle east and floated a tech company on the London Stock exchange. While he’s also had the pleasure of being booed by 49,000 fans at a major football cup final. That’s one way of trying to make friends.
For those who won’t brave the Costas this summer, instead opting for a staycation, this book is a great vehicle for helping you to imagine what might have been. Or it could make great sun-lounger reading whilst you risk the worldwide contagion. Do I recommend it? Yes, and that at least, is not complicated….
Reviewed by : Georgina Murphy
This book is part of a Random Things Blog Tour. To see what the other reviewers thought, visit their blogs listed below. Then if you get a copy comeback and tell us what you thought, we’d love the feedback.