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Hold My Hand: The most gripping, dark and twisty crime thriller book of the year Kindle Edition
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'A cracking debut from M.J Ford. Well-written and sizzling with tension. Deserves to do well.' James Nally, author of Alone with the Dead
‘A fab, page turning thriller!’ Jacqui Rose
‘I absolutely loved this well written,riveting debut mystery and would have happily given it far more than five stars.I really hope this is the first book in a new series and look forward to reading more books by this author in the future.’ Goodreads reviewer
‘Hold My Hand is an absolutely brilliant debut novel from a very talented author. It has an elaborate plot which is both convincing and exciting, a number of dubious suspects, twists and turns, an unbelievably scary and thrilling conclusion, in fact everything I want from a crime thriller. I love the character of Jo Masters who’s feisty and has a life outside the police force, and I want to read more of her. It was impossible for me to stop reading, and when I really had to I found myself thinking about it. I can wholeheartedly recommend this novel which could well be a bestseller for 2018!’ NetGalley reviewer--This text refers to the paperback edition.
The addictive crime thriller you won’t be able to put down!--This text refers to the paperback edition.
- ASIN : B074ZTDVWS
- Publisher : Avon (March 8, 2018)
- Publication date : March 8, 2018
- Language : English
- File size : 1020 KB
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print length : 338 pages
- Lending : Not Enabled
- Best Sellers Rank: #304,416 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
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Top reviews from the United States
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If profanity bothers you, there's a fair amount. I guess it's supposed to be gritty. I personally, would have preferred a lot less.
And again as others have said, it takes place in England and even though I read a lot of books by British authors, for some reason I struggled a bit with this one. I was constantly looking up definitions, some of which I couldn't find. I joked to my husband that I was having a bit of a time with this book since I don't speak English! Not that big of a deal just kind of interesting.
The thing that kept me from rating this a 5-star book was that I thought the big reveal was a bit too "cute." Okay, definitely not cute but... It just felt like the author wanted to come up with something that was so out of left field that the reader would be surprised. Without any spoilers, it was pretty easy to see where the reveal was going to come from just now how. When it came, it was kind of bizarre. I thought it felt a bit forced and left me with a lot of questions.
But I'd still recommend the book. It was a good read and I did enjoy it.
HOUSEKEEPING ISSUES FIRST
LANGUAGE & BLUSH FACTOR Written in UK-English, so many Americans might struggle with some of the terms and slang. Otherwise the significant point is that it does have a moderate number of profanities.
POV Written in third person point of view, but with much of the immediacy found in first person pov.
OVERALL This is good writing but, perhaps, there is a little too much going on for some readers. The excerpt deals with one of of those stories within a story.
‘...She’d found out by accident. Ben had been behaving weirdly for days. Not sleeping, drinking more heavily than usual. She’d thought it was work, stupidly, but then she’d checked the savings account and seen the truth. They’d been putting a bit away each month for three years to get the deposit together. Nearly thirty grand. And when she checked, the account was empty. Well, not quite. The balance was two quid something. She logged out and in again, but it was the same. Had to be a mistake. But when she viewed the recent transactions, her whole world dropped away. There were regular payments to a stock-trading website, a few thousand at a time. The last one was six days before.
Heart beating fast and fingertips tingling, she put the computer aside and tried to stay calm. All their money gone. Or maybe not. Perhaps it was sitting in another account still. He couldn’t have lost it all. He wouldn’t do that to her.
Ben had always been a recreational gambler. Fruit machines in the pub, sports events. It had been cool in the early days because he often won, and sometimes he won big. And when he did, he was generous with it. In their late twenties, two grand on a football accumulator had gone straight on a blow-out weekend in Copenhagen. Of course, the wins were easy to remember. They’d had one or two arguments, no more than squabbles really, when she thought he’d gone too far. It was normally after a loss, when he’d sulk for a few days, then she’d learn he’d placed another bet to try and recoup. She didn’t get that –it reeked of desperation. And when she found a betting app on his phone, she’d put her foot down and demanded he delete it. He did so, but she’d suspected he’d reinstalled it not long afterwards. When they moved in together, in their first rented place, a condition had been that he stop gambling completely. Work had been crazy at the time, so there were plenty of other distractions.
In the days after she found he’d emptied the account, she watched him closely and the signs weren’t good. He looked knackered and was only going through the motions at work. She checked his phone, and in his internet history found searches for short-term loans. She came close to confronting him, but something stopped her. She realised it was fear. Not of how he’d react, but of what his reaction would mean. If he really had lost everything, it was over. There was no way back. She couldn’t help him, because he couldn’t help himself. She flitted from anger, to pity, to despair.
One night she went out with a friend and got drunker than usual. When she returned home, she found Ben asleep. For the first time in weeks he looked at peace, his brow smooth, his breathing slow. He looked like he used to, and her body took over. She woke him and they made love wordlessly. Maybe it was the booze, or a part of her knowing it would be...’
Excerpted from Hold My Hand, Chapter 3, by M. J. Ford
While I was not ADDICTED to this tale, it is indeed interesting and a good pastime.
Four stars out of five.
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Top reviews from other countries
The novel opens in the summer of 1987 in the village of Yarnton, Oxfordshire when an eight-year-old Josie Masters attends the final day of the travelling circus with her fifteen-year-old brother, Paul. Parting company with her brother she is drawn to the football stall where a ginger haired and freckly lad sporting the current Liverpool football shirt watches her win the top prize. Rather envious of his shirt, the last time Josie sees the boy he is holding hands with a clown and walking off into the distance in what proves to be the final sighting of seven-year-old Dylan Jones. Attempting to alert the crowd to no avail and with Dylan subsequently never having been found and his fate unknown has imbued Josie with a sense of guilt and a lingering feeling of responsibility. From the stomach churning disappearance of a child, the story then fast-forwards thirty years when readers meet Josie (Jo) is an entirely different context.
Narrated entirely in the third-person subjective a now thirty-nine-year-old DS Jo Masters of Avon and Somerset police is summoned to a derelict house in Bradford-on-Avon where the remains of a child’s body have been recovered complete with the tatters of a red football shirt. A pensive Jo attends fully expecting the confirmation that the skeleton belongs to Dylan when she is informed that a member of Thames Valley CID has connected the discovery to a long-standing missing persons report. Also attending the scene is retired Detective Harry Fremantle who at the time of Dylan’s disappearance worked as a constable on the original investigation. As the team await confirmation M.J. Ford provides a succinct overview of the most pertinent aspects of the initial case, from the deliberate cutting of the circus phone line to the persons of interest investigated at the time, even addressing the lack of definitive sex offenders records pre-1997. Although the circumstantial evidence points towards the remains being that of Dylan before there is a conclusive answer DS Masters is taken off the case that is headed up by her ex partner and once again filled with a sense of powerlessness that she was never given the chance to make amends.
However when another boy goes missing in a case which echoes the hallmarks of Dylan’s disappearance, specifically with the perpetrator disguised by a clown mask, Jo is seconded to Thames Valley to join the investigation in Jericho. As speculation of a possible connection between Dylan’s disappearance and eleven-year-old Niall McDonagh’s case mounts the local media whips up a frenzy and dubs the perpetrator, “The Killer Clown” whilst the detectives begin to speculate that a copycat is at work and what at first seems like a relatively straightforward case reveals itself to be mired in complexities that drag Jo back to her own mixed childhood memories and family home. As the Niall McDonagh investigation stalls and Jo awaits confirmation of the possible remains of Dylan the possibility that she might let another child down weighs every bit as heavily.
As level-headed Jo goes under the radar keeping abreast of the resolution on Dylan’s fate and actively liaising in Niall’s disappearance she ignores the reprimands and warnings to steer clear and with a local journalist and school contemporary latching onto Jo’s involvement in both cases she finds herself out of favour and coming to the attention of Thames Valley’s mercurial DCI Stratton. However when a suspect emerges who doesn’t quite feel right or fit the required profile it niggles Jo and with the respective CID’s keen to resolve both the cold case and Niall’s disappearance in one fell swoop she is impelled to act to ensure the real perpetrator is brought to justice. Jo’s personal involvement with the case of Dylan and the circularity of Niall’s inspires her to dig deeper into the contrasts between both situations, with one indicating an opportunistic snatch and Niall’s kidnap clearly planned and the age difference between the boys in particular raising more questions. As she takes time to understand the suspects previous offences, mindset and the thoughts on his social worker, she quickly forms the opinion that he either had an accomplice or was coerced..
Whilst the novel is largely driven by a tight knit plot, the characterisation is definitely not lacking and in lead protagonist, DS Jo Masters, M.J. Ford has carved out a downright ordinary modern female and whilst her personal life isn’t overly rosy there is not an ounce of self-pity for her situation, rather a take it on the chin determination and sincere compassion. Perhaps the closest comparison in current crime fiction with Jo is DS Joanne Aspinall from Paula Daly’s novels especially given her ability to keep things in proportion. I certainly hope that her character will make a repeat appearance as she is a sympathetic and sensible woman who I empathised with immensely and her impressive handling of the case, including her very direct approach to interviewing some very clued up teens, inspires faith in her abilities. Having recently split from her partner of over ten years and superior in DI Ben Coombs after his compulsive gambling and a recent miscarriage Jo is vulnerable with Ben is making her life a misery both at work and outside. Renting a grim one-bed flat in the centre of Oxford and struggling for money, her dream of having a child is fading into the distance with the costly and uncertain process of undergoing IVF weighing on her mind. Ben too is well-drawn, ranging from condescending and dismissive at work to apologetic and underhanded as he attempts to inveigle himself back into Jo’s life.
Engrossing until the last, the relentless pace does abate a little into the close however with plenty of surprises unfolding and Ford’s admirable refusal to deliver the crowd pleasing happy ending his execution and the pause for reflection final chapters impress. All in all, Hold My Hand is an outstanding debut with a substantial plot, a fascinating three-dimensional protagonist and credible red herrings on the part of M.J. Ford. A cunning eye for misdirection is in evidence throughout with retired Detective Harry Fremantle and DI Ben Coombs both notably giving rise to a disconcerting unease. Infused with an atmospheric sense of place, the archaic traditions of the Oxford colleges and the proximity to Jo’s own past and an awkward relationship with her ailing mother. Subtle distinctions are made between the children of 1987 and the more street-smart, outspoken and savvy youth of today. The denouement is dispatched with due consideration, giving enough details and background to make it feel plausible and fitting. A superior debut!
Review written by Rachel Hall (@hallrachel)
Her tenacity and detective skills lead her to places that her colleagues are not getting to, but is she endangering other lives in the process? She is right about one thing however, things are definitely NOT what they seem to be! Initially I was quite prepared not to like Jo as she appeared to be slightly brittle and maybe even a little shallow but as her character was fleshed out I began her have some empathy for her and even quite admired her by the end of the book.
I understand that this is this author's first book for adult readers and it makes a very fine debut into this genre, I look forward to seeing much more from him in the future and hope huge can maintain the standard of this excellent start.