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The Housewife, Valerie Keogh


Blurb

There’s no place like home” – that’s what I tell myself as I pull another flawless meal from the oven. This perfect house on a quiet street was supposed to be my sanctuary, a place to recover. But everything changed the moment I saw that woman in the charity shop. She triggered something dark, buried deep within my memory…

Now I’ve started forgetting small things, like locking the front door.

And bigger things, like remembering to pick my little girl up from nursery.

I feel terrified every time I pass through a particular spot in our living room.
And sometimes, when I’m alone, I’m sure I can hear a baby crying…
I think the woman in the shop knows what happened to me. But if I can’t trust myself to believe she’s real, who will?

Available here

My review

NB, I wrote this review last week, before I’d seen the cover. OMG,  I just love it – the raw beauty of that blue and then the red – it just pops out at you. Even though I’ve read I’ve just gone ahead and pre ordered anyway just because of it. 

I’ve long been a fan of Valerie Keogh, my go to writer for nail-biting reads. Okay, so her Hudson/Connelly does make me feel a little uncomfortable but there’s something fundamentally wrong about a psychopathic murdering nurse don’t you think? Her Garda West series, more formulaic but with stunning locations and unusual plots is pure genius. 

But enough about that. The Housewife is the second of Keogh’s thrillers under the auspices of Bookouture. Secrets Between Us, my favourite thriller of 2018, her first. But this one is very different.

I don’t know if any of you are fans of Irish literature but there’s shades of that famous of all famous Irish playwrights, Seán O’Casey’s Kitchen-sink masterpiece, ‘Juno and the Paycock’, to be found amongst the pages of The Housewife. Keogh has taken a situation, a day in the life of a housewife and turned it inside-out and upside-down. After all there’s little to find that’s exciting in the day-to-day chores of washing, ironing, shopping and cleaning for a husband and small child – rewarding perhaps but exciting? No. But there’s something lurking, some element just out of the corner of the reader’s eye that is uncomfortable. Amongst the cooking and cleaning the husband is a little too controlling. The drive for Diane to be that impossible of all things – perfect – unsettling. And when she decides to try and get back into the workplace after a period of ill-health? Tragic.

There are no heroes between the pages of Keogh’s novel. There are no millionaires, yachts, blonde bombshells or other unrealistic characters. Here Keogh has made the ordinary extraordinary. The monotonous, riveting. Housework will never seem the same again and housewives? They each have a story to tell. 

More please. 

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Death Comes To Call – Clare Chase

Blurb

When a promising local artist disappears, the victim’s brother begs Detective Tara Thorpe to take the case. It seems there’s no evidence of foul play… he simply disappeared without a trace.
Tara agrees to do some digging… never mind that her unorthodox approach to policing has got a few of her colleagues’ backs up. Amongst them is her former supervisor Detective Patrick Wilkins… he’s had enough of Tara calling the shots and will do anything to knock her down. She must be careful.
At least she has an ally in their boss, Detective Garstin Blake. He’ll always back her hunches. If anything, they work together too well… at least, that’s the rumour around the station these days.

When a body of a young woman is found frozen near the fens, Tara’s evidence suddenly becomes key to solving a high-profile murder. Is their missing artist still a victim… or in fact a clever murderer with a deadly plan?

Available here

My review. 

This is my fifth read by Clare Chase so you can probably guess I’m a huge fan of her writing. Tara Thorp and her boss, Blake get tangled up in a case of missing artist, Luke. But it’s not his body that turns up but that of art gallery hostess, Freya Cross. 

This is a riveting, ‘bum stuck in chair’ read where the complex characters add an extra layer of excitement to what is already a white-knuckle read. Chase drags you into her world, kicking and screaming, playing with you emotions until conclusions have been drawn and all loose ends tied off in a pretty bow. I like the added element of Blake’s relationship with Tara. It added an extra dimension to an already well-thought-out plot. 

Here we don’t just get a crime thriller. We also get a flutter of romance and more office politics than you can shake a stick at. 10 stars. 

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Vegetarian chilli-bean soup.


I haven’t been here for a while but, after a Christmas where health featured quite heavily, I decided to have a life rethink and one of those thoughts was that I wasn’t achieving what I wanted from my existence. 

Writing is all very well but it’s just one small facet. 

I’ve always wanted to be a vegetarian and even managed to convince the family a few years ago but, after about a year we all fell off the wagon. But I’m not getting any younger and, now that the kids are older I decided to jump the meat ship just before Christmas. 

This isn’t just for January. This is me for life. 

There was no planning and that first week I was finding it increasingly difficult to find anything in the cupboard that I wanted to eat. I’m also low carb, low salt and low sugar, which makes for an interesting diet but it’s my decision and I’m not moaning, just trying to work around it. 

Low carb is great although I’m not a slave to it. I just avoid bread and potatoes most days. I’ve never added salt to anything apart from porridge and dough so that was easy too. Low sugar is also easy as I don’t have a sweet tooth, giving up bread has been much harder. But giving up meat…

I’m not a brilliant cook but, more importantly, I don’t have either the time or the inclination to spend long periods in the kitchen when I could be writing.  The following recipe is a store cupboard accident and the purists will frown at the use of tinned but these ingredients can be easily substituted for dried beans and fresh tomatoes and I would have if I’d had any in the cupboard. 

This is cheap, quick, easy, low calorie and vegan as well as vegetarian but, I’m going to add either some feta cheese or a soft poached egg to the top of mine before serving to make up for the lack of crusty bread 😉. And while it’s cooking I’m going to continue editing my next masterpiece, a crime thriller set in Wales. 

Nutrients

Calorie wise it’s 240 calories for a large bowl but that’s a lot of soup! It meets all of the 5 a day in one bowl and is low in salt and only 10% the RDA of sugar. 

Recipe

One tin tomatoes

One tin mixed beans

One small onion

I clove garlic

Teaspoon of oregano and basil

I small hot chilli

1 teaspoon olive oil

Method

Purée onion and garlic, soften in 1 teaspoon olive oil. Add beans and tomatoes. Bring to boil and simmer for ten minutes. Pop in blender, add water to make it the correct consistency for you before serving.