Thank you to Enchanted Book Promotion for the ARC copy in exchange for an honest review.
About the Book
Title: Grave Injustice
Author: Netta Newbound
Genre: Psychological Thriller
Geri and James return in their most explosive adventure to date.
When next door neighbour, Lydia, gives birth to her second healthy baby boy, James and Geri pray their friend can finally be happy and at peace. But, little do they know Lydia’s troubles are far from over.
Meanwhile, Geri is researching several historic, unsolved murders for James’ new book. She discovers one of the prime suspects now resides in Spring Pines Retirement Village, the scene of not one, but two recent killings.
Although the police reject the theory, Geri is convinced the cold case they’re researching is linked to the recent murders. But how? Will she regret delving so deeply into the past?
My Honest Review:
I looked at the cover and said YES this looks like my kind of read, I read the blurb and was convinced it would be a true psychological thriller, that I’d love every part of. It started out as a page turner, I could not put it down. The writing was easy to read, and follow. These are the positives and things I loved. The actual idea is a good idea for the plot. So why did I end up only able to review it with 2.5 stars?…
- Some parts unrealistic-police investigation (or lack of), for a novel with a lot of crime in. Also the characters and their actions I questioned as realistic.
- I predicted all the who-dun-it, suicide, and ending. I saw it before it happened.
- The characters I found underdeveloped for psychos/a bit loopy/ with issues. The murder investigators themselves I found not that developed for a 300 odd page novel.
- I found plot gaps * bites lips*. And unanswered questions.
Arrrgggh!! I was convinced I’d love the bones off this book, this has “Kim’s read” written all over it, the genre, the story line, the cover, and you know what I love the IDEA, it was how it was delivered in the story telling. I don’t hate it at all, I still love the IDEA I just wish it was not so easy to see what’s coming and it had more development and “umph.” Some parts left me with the above issues, this brought my reading experience down. That’s why I could not love it all, and rate it higher. I’ll break down the main points above in my own personal honest reading experience.
Geri and her partner are investigating old unsolved cases of murder in their town, to use for research for the book Geri’s partner is writing on true crime cases. As I was reading they didn’t come across as characters with this mission. They got way too close to the suspects. Invites to weddings/bridesmaids, coffee dates etc. While this closeness may have been needed for the story to unfold how it did while reading (no spoilers), if the writing developed or showed that this “closeness” was not really enjoyable or naive to what it really should have been for- to solve the cases, it may have seemed more realistic to me. I found while reading that this turned from a page turning murder investigation and thriller/suspense story, to a friendly couple getting to know old people down the road. A relationship or growing friendship played out, not balanced with suspicion or intrigue, to throw me the reader some shade, or make me feel on my toes while reading. It was too “nice.” The characters Geri and her partner never really had much of a POV on the cases or suspects, to me there was little focus on their findings as I read, it was mainly a POV of “oh what nice people they are, let’s get to know them and go for a coffee they can’t be suspects.” The story lost its edge, thrill and gritty feeling. With no real POV from Geri or James it made it hard for me to also understand if they were serious about finding the truth or not. They were after all trying to objectively decide if they have the right suspects.
My second issue around the reality in the plot was Lydia, as an ex-alcoholic when her sister Candice spiked her orange juice with enough vodka to get her so drunk ,she could not remember her behaviour, I found this not close to reality- the reaction from Lydia in this scene. I thought about it as I read and felt, if this did happen she took a sip of a drink laced with vodka ( a lot she got drunk), would she not taste it? Would suspicion not arise from Lydia about the drink? Or one of two things might be the outcome once she tasted it 1. she spits it out and does not touch it. Vodka is a high % spirit you’d taste it and notice, would you then drink it all as a breast feeding mother? You’d know it’s laced. 2. okay let’s say she decided to drink it, I doubt the next morning after she was found drunk that she’d deny drinking anything. A drink laced with that much vodka to get you drunk you would have known it’s laced you can’t deny it, how can you say ” I drunk some orange juice from the fridge and don’t know what happened” …. the taste of it would be way too harsh to not notice if you got that drunk. I was a bit like huh?? That’s a lot of vodka to get you that drunk how can you not know. Then Geri and James’ reaction also was just brushed over.
My other issue around reality was the police investigations- lack of for a story with such a big element of crime- murder / or even GBH . Without giving too much away. There is a scene where Lydia’s sister Candice is almost murdered by someone else, and Geri is really badly battered by Candice. Candice and Geri really went at it …..where were the police to investigate exactly what happened once all the drama was over? Why was Geri discharged from hospital without being questioned about what happened? What about Lydia also, and Mad Thomas ?? And what happened to Candice?? After this major event with very little police involvement we never heard from her again. Was she alive or dead? Did she get convicted of anything? As I read with all these questions over this major scene toward the end of the book, it made me feel things have been brushed over and not developed.
My last area of reality as a issue is the ending, when the who-dun-it is told, the police decide to “let it be.” And so do Geri and James. I imagine that any police force in the UK , with a clear idea of who a historical serial killer is now, would not “let it be.” Even if the reputation of the police for missing key things in the original investigation might be tarnished. Look at Jimmy Savell’s famous “unsolved case of child abuse” in the UK he died, but had a case to answer and it was still investigated. Just like the character in this book who was guilty but dead. Would the police destroy evidence? Knowing that there are two other people (Geri and James) aware that they have done this? I found it too hard to take in, matched with reality of police involvement in murder. Also the whole point of Geri and her partner investigating the unsolved murders… for the book on true crime is then disowned. They decide not to write it now they know the truth, as they can’t bring themselves to. Why? Because they were too close to suspect and “really liked him.”*Sighs.* I think for me as a reader too many unanswered questions, plot gaps around the crime, and reality made me gravitate to the star rating I ended up with.
For me I think as a reader this is also one of the major reasons why I settled in the end on 2.5 stars, as well as the above reality issue, and the fact that I predicted all the who-dun-it. Geri and James (her partner) came across as a middle classed family getting to know a group of old people at the local home. Not crime investigators. While I was reading they had no real personal POV, to show me as a reader inside their head or motives. It was mainly “no I don’t think it’s him, because he is a nice person we’ve got to know him.”
Candice, now this character murdered Lydia’s husband and their son before she disappeared. I won’t add spoilers on how etc. She then came back to torment Lydia and was hidden inside Lydia’s house! She did some real sick things on her return and in the past …. but I never heard her POV or inside her head. It was mainly “Candice wet herself laughing as she watched Lydia’s reaction.” as narration. Candice came across as a prankster little sister, not a cold blooded person, with serious issues capable of murder of not just two but potentially three people if you include Geri. Her POV is minimal and she plays such a big part of the whole story. I think the writer could have “stepped in her shoes” more to bring her to life Candice to me may have come across as more powerful. As she is very powerful in the story line…. the delivery of it I would have loved.
The actual murderer of the historic cases : I won’t say who it is, but this character also is underdeveloped, there was a great chance develop them after death! Especially in the diary entries the murder wrote,that James found. Which we readers don’t get to read to hear the killer’s POV , at the time of the murders what his real motives were etc. Just brushed over again.
Overall, after thinking about this novel a lot, I settled on just 2.5 stars because while there was almost 300 pages of writing (mostly good and enjoyable to start off with), it’s underdeveloped for the story line to pop. I did not feel that true gritty, faced paced, on my toes feeling this genre of books tends to give me as a reader. It started out that way which is really sad then lost the edge. I also predicted the whole plot due to the lack of flesh, there were no red herrings that threw me as a reader off, or an element of surprise. This novel is straight forward the suspects are handed to you, I worked it out. Lastly, there was ( for me as massive lover of this genre) major plot gaps around the police involvement, in such serious crimes like murder. I almost feel like if the author ever did a re-draft, I’d read again because I am sure…no I’m positive I’d love this story if a few gaps were fixed and characters more powerful. And this is why I settled on 2.5 stars.
Netta Newbound is the author of twelve popular thriller novels/novellas to date including the Adam Stanley Thriller Series and the Cold Case Files. Her debut psychological thriller, An Impossible Dilemma, shot up the charts in 2015 in both the UK and US reaching #1 in several thriller and horror categories. This rapid success gained Netta a name for herself in the thriller genre. The Watcher, another of her bestsellers that reached the top 20 in the Amazon chart, was published through Bloodhound Books, who will also publish her next book, Maggie, in October 2017.
Originally from Manchester, England, Netta has travelled extensively and has lived and worked in a variety of exciting places. She now lives in New Zealand with her husband. They have three grown up children and four grandchildren.