She’s Mine, by A.A. Chaudhuri

Eight stars

Having read and enjoyed other books by A.A. Chaudhuri, I was eager to get my hands on this one. Usually full of great twists throughout the narrative, Chaudhuri impresses readers with the style of writing that develops thrills from the opening pages. This book proved to be a little different from the others and I could not feel the same connection developing, though I know many will flock to it, as it is told in a unique and captivating fashion.

Christine Donovan took a call that ought to have been ignored twenty years ago. While she turned away to speak, her daughter, Heidi went missing at the playground. Distraught and unsure what do do, Christine spiralled out of control. Heidi has not been seen since, though her memory lingers for Christine.

Christine and her husband, Greg, have two other children, which might be a silver lining in all of this. However, the guilt and responsibility weigh on Christine, so much so that she’s sought therapeutic help to work through the emotions of the event. Tied into it all is the secret of the phone call that had Christine turn away from Heidi, which could be devastating, should anyone else find out who was on the other end of the line.

As Christine tries to rebuild her life and make inroads with her new therapist, a note appears to offer a piece of news that will turn everyone on its head. Heidi is not dead and has been growing up with another family all this time. Who could have taken her and kept it under wraps for this long? What will Heidi feel when she comes face to face with her mother after all this time? Behind it all is a handful of truths that no one could have expected to come flooding out, as well as a chance for Christine to come to terms with everything that’s happened over the past two decades. A.A. Chaudhuri does well to keep the reader engaged and provides a few ‘aha’ moments to keep them on their toes.

I enjoy a thriller where things are less than linear, forcing the reader to pay close attention in order to follow what’s taking place. A.A. Chaudhuri does just that in this piece, addressing a number of issues across the backdrop of a long period of time. Her writing style is strong and the ideas appear to flow with ease, creating an entertaining outcome that many will enjoy. While not as stunning ad some of her past work, I did enjoy this move away from what I have come to expect.

THe story centres around Christine Donovan and all she has had to overcome, but there were many whose lives have been impacted by the kidnapping. Chaudhuri offers up numerous perspectives in the piece, enriching the reader’s experience with a number of moments whereby there is both backstory and development. Christine’s struggles, Heidi’s coming to terms with what has happened, and even the new family who raised a toddler. The emotional strains of all three of these perspectives arise in the story and keep the reader wondering how they will mesh together. Chaudhuri does well to paint her characters in such a light that it makes sense and impacts the reader quite effectively throughout the reading experience.

A strong story cannot rely simply on a few ingredients for success. Rather, there has to see something to captivate the reader from the get-go and sustain that impact throughout the experience. A.A. Chaudhuri does that well and keeps the reader guessing what is to come through a narrative that packs quite the punch. As mentioned above, there are some formidable characters that add depth and flavour to the piece, as well as plot twists that keep the reader guessing. Told through a number of perspectives, the piece offers up angled storytelling that gives a fuller and more exciting reading experience for everyone involved, which is something I truly admired. I’ll keep my eyes open for more by the author, which is sure to be a treat for me in the moving years.

Kudos, Madam Chaudhuri, on another successful piece of writing. I am eager to delve deeper into more of your work, as they are published.

The Abduction (Carver and Kramer #2), by A.A. Chaudhuri

Nine stars

First and foremost, a large thank you to NetGalley, A.A. Chaudhuri, and Endeavour Media for providing me with a copy of this publication, which allows me to provide you with an unbiased review.

Returning with a thrilling follow-up to her explosive debut novel, A.A. Chaudhuri takes readers back into a world where the criminal element are highly deceptive and calculating at the same time. When a group of masked men storm into a London law firm, they choose a handful of hostages, including one partner, before disappearing. Amongst those huddled under the tables is Maddy Kramer, still trying to come to grips with crimes committed at her last law firm. DCI Jake Carver arrives to take control of the situation and begins his investigation, which includes who these men might have been and why the hostages were chosen. When the hostage takers reach out to Nigel Davenport, one of the firm’s senior partners, he learns that he must pay the ante or face ruin. A timetable is offered and Davenport is eager to do what he can, fearing his secrets will be revealed to the world. No one seems the wiser, as deadlines arrive and demands are met. When the hostages are released, one would assume that this is the end of it, but Carver and Kramer have other plans, looking into a rape allegation against Nigel Davenport, back from his days at Cambridge. Why would the hostage takers want this old crime brought to the surface and how deep does the devastation run? As Carver and Kramer seek to dig a little deeper, they realise that the hostages themselves, as well as the entire situation at the law firm, seems a tad off kilter. Working as best they can under strict deadlines, these two discover an errant thread that might unravel everything, or lead them nowhere. Well-paced and full of excitement, A.A. Chaudhuri knows how to pen a great thriller. Recommended to those who love British police procedurals that hold little back, as well as the reader who likes to see a case from both sides of the coin.

I was so very impressed with Chaudhuri’s debut novel that I kept my eyes peeled for this second piece, sure that it would pack just as much punch. I was not wrong, as some of the returning characters create a strong narrative and help shape what turns out to be quite the unique set of facts. Maddy Kramer is back as a legal associate, having taken some time off from her last firm and just getting herself situated amongst a new set of names and faces. It would seem she cannot shake the cloud of trouble that follows her, but she is just as willing to be in the middle of any adventure, as long as DCI Carver is there for the ride. Balancing her sleuthing abilities with a new spark romance, Maddy is able to find new and interesting aspects to the overall story that helps shed some light onto what is going on. DCI Jake Carver does well as he investigates, but remains baffled about the hostages and the rape angle. He won’t let that stand in his way, but is fighting his internal demons about this new connection he and Maddy Kramer seem to possess. Together, they are able to dig a little deeper and reveal truths that some might have wanted hidden for as long as possible. Others make their presence known on the page and help to shape this story, which is almost two in one. The hostage taking and the motives of those in charge offer one line of inquiry, but this rape allegation from decades before does not dissipate and might be an especially important part to the larger abduction. Chaudhuri offers readers some great plot lines while pushing a strong narrative and unique characters. Seeing the story from both angles—that of the investigation and the hostages—helps to create a full-circle experience and allows the reader to discover just what is going on at all times. While the romance between Kramer and Carver was to be expected, it is not overdone and does not distract from the overall experience. I would gladly read more novels with these two at the helm and can only hope that A. A. Chaudhuri has something in mind for the coming months, with fans eager to learn more.

Kudos, Madam Chaudhuri, for another winner. I can only hope that others are an enamoured with the novel as I find myself being.

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge:

The Scribe (Kramer and Carver #1), by A. A. Chaudhuri

Nine stars

In her genre debut, A. A. Chaudhuri pens a sensational crime thriller that will have readers forging ahead late into the night to discover what drives a curious and cunning serial killer. When the body of a young lawyer and security guard are discovered at an elite London law firm, DCI Jake Carver and his team are baffled. Not only was the lawyer an up and coming star, but Sarah Morrell has had her torso inscribed with ‘Contract’. Who could have wanted to commit such a heinous act? Fellow lawyer Maddy Kramer is chilled to the bone, having attended law school with Sarah, even if they were not close. When a second lawyer is murdered and an equally chilling word carved into her chest, Mandy can no longer sit idly by. She approaches DCI Carver and offers some of her own insights, as well as providing some interesting information about one of her former law professors, who also happened to have had a sexual relationship with both victims. James Stirling has a long reputation for racking up the conquests, though he refuses to admit as much when the police come knocking. Soon, both Mandy and DCI Carver are contacted by the killer, offering insight into future kills, though it will take teamwork and determination to crack the code. As the kills mount and Stirling becomes the most likely suspect, a break in the case sends the investigation in new and troubling directions. Seven presumed victims, all tied together by one man, but could he have done all this without ever being detected? Chaudhuri does a masterful job in her writing and delivery of this stellar police procedural. Recommended to those who love fast-paced crime thrillers, as well as the reader who enjoys new and upcoming authors.

I stumbled upon this book and the dust jacket blurb alone was enough to pull me in. I wanted to try the book, though the fact that A. A. Chaudhuri was writing her first crime novel left me unsure of what to expect. From the opening pages, I was hooked, with a killer lurking in the shadows and slaying an unsuspecting young lawyer. From there, the story grew, allowing me to connect with both protagonists. DCI Jake Carver is a dedicated copper, whose time on the force has both helped him hone his skills and lose what little connection he has with his family. Trying to balance homicide work with being a dad to his son who seems to have turned away after the divorce, Carver can only hope that he is able to use what little downtime he has effectively. He’s in tune with his caseload and dedicated to finding answers, wherever they may be, though is not too proud to accept help. I am eager to see how his character grows in any follow-up novels. Carver is contrasted nicely with Maddy Kramer, a young lawyer whose backstory is full of pain. Orphaned at nine, Maddy learned how to grow up with her grandmother, though she is not beyond sacrificing others to make it in the world of the law. That said, she has a great deal of compassion and is determined not to let the killer in the novel get the upper hand. Working with Carver, they are able to develop a strategy to crack the code and save a number of victims from meeting an untimely fate. Other characters complement the narrative nicely and keep the reader affixed to the story at hand. As the book is listed as “#1”, I can only hope others will be published and some of the minor characters appear again, able to work more cases with equally disturbing killers. The story was as strong as I could have expected, more than I predicted this novel would bring. The narrative is full of impactful plots and races from one chapter to the next. A mix of longer and short chapters keep the reader on their toes and makes for a thrilling adventure, until the final page turn. This is one novel not to be missed by those who like the genre. A wonderful novel, no matter where the reader chooses to experience this book.

Kudos, Madam Chaudhuri, for a stunning series debut. I cannot wait to see what else you have in story for readers.

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: