Book info

Crossbones Yard (2013)

Crossbones Yard (2013)
Author
Rating
3.62 of 5 Votes: 3
ISBN
125001428X (ISBN13: 9781250014283)
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English
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publisher
minotaur books
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Crossbones Yard (2013)
Crossbones Yard (2013)

About book: I deliberated between 3 and 4 stars for this book, I am settling on 3 stars in the end (I will explain why). So, I am a huge crime fiction reader, it's my most read genre, I have no secrets around that, and as the years go on I find I am getting fussier with this genre, largely due to some spectacular 5 star reads I have read in the last year. What's this book about then?Alice Quentin is a psychologist with some painful family secrets, but she has a good job, a good-looking boyfriend, and excellent coping skills, even when that job includes evaluating a convicted killer who’s about to be released from prison. One of the highlights of her day is going for a nice, long run around her beloved London, it's impossible to fret or feel guilty about your mother or brother when you're concentrating on your breathing until she stumbles upon a dead body at a former graveyard for prostitutes, Crossbones Yard. The dead woman’s wounds are alarmingly similar to the signature style of Ray and Marie Benson, who tortured and killed thirteen women before they were caught and sent to jail. Five of their victims were never found. That was six years ago, and the last thing Alice wants to do is to enter the sordid world of the Bensons or anyone like them. But when the police ask for her help in building a psychological profile of the new murderer, she finds that the killer and the danger to her and the people she cares about may already be closer than she ever imagined.My Review:Alice Quentin has had a traumatic childhood, not surprisingly she is now a Psychologist, helping others heal their trauma. She is asked to become involved in helping the police after a murder occurs that bears the hallmarks of two horrific husband and wife serial killers who are both out of action now. Do they have a copycat killer? Alice is asked to assess. Very early in this book, a few chapters in I picked out the killer, unfortunately the author left too many pointers and clues and although I had doubts here and there I hung on to this early instinct and was right. The bad thing about knowing early is you look at the entire book differently, the interactions, the conversations, it's almost like the mystery is taken away. For me this dropped my rating to 3.5 stars, as I don't want to guess the killer a couple of chapters in please.So, I tried to put that aside (but could not), and read on. It's a pleasant and easy read, easy on the brain, no need to concentrate intensely, I read the book in less than two hours. Nothing complex about it.I found Alice's character annoying a bit as a professional woman, she shows some very gullible traits for a woman versed in the world of psychology (like letting in an ex-con who is being watched into her home and offering a cup of tea!) Um. No. You just don't do that, even the average woman knows that. I mean, why? Anyway, you get what I mean. Maybe I am being picky, but that just sounded weird to me.She runs a lot too, you get a tour of London, street names, famous landmarks, buildings whilst she is jogging around town, she runs even though women are being murdered on the streets. Not sure if she is fearless or stupid. The plot starts to pick up pace with events coming close to home for Alice, things are NOT making sense to her at all (it did to me because I had guessed the killer). She suddenly finds herself in danger and a target and has no idea why. One of the better characters in this book was Lola, her housemate, her bouncy personality and zest for life came across as very genuine in the book, I liked her. She was fun. And the opposite in personality to Alice, so a good balance for each other as friends. Alice digs into the old case files from the murders of the five girls who have not been found, she is trying her best to piece it together to help the police. Meanwhile her love life is all over the place, hot and cold, will she ever let anyone close to her heart again? Don't worry, it's not overflowing with flowery romantic moments but we do get insight into her heart and mind.There are some scenes that did not ring accurate to me in relation to police procedures like the police allowing Alice to close the eyes of a murder victim she views at the crime scene, even though the police comment forensics won't like it. Of course they won't, she's contaminating a fresh crime scene. Ahem? It's not a bad book, I did like it overall, I think if I did not read so much crime fiction my rating might be higher but I saw too many flaws in the killer's identity being hinted at too early and inaccurate procedural details. The positives are that I was pushed on to keep reading, and whilst I felt the ending was too quick and could have stretched on a bit longer to create more tension and suspense, it was okay. A middle of the road crime thriller. I will try another book in this series to see how it may be improved upon.

I’m wary of dark crime fiction, preferring to read just a handful of authors I know I can trust, but I read words of praise that made me think I might have found another name to add to my list. Now that I have read her first novel, ‘Crossbones Yard’, I can say that I have.There are many elements that are familiar in this book, but the quality of the writing was such that I didn’t mind. It made the characters, their worlds, their situations lived and breathed. And, as this is the first book in a series, and a first crime novel by the author, I see great potential for future books.The central character, Alice Quentin, is rather like so many other women at the centre of crime fiction series; highly capable in her professional life but rather less capable in her personal life. But she is much better drawn, much more credible, than most – if not all – of the others. She’s a psychologist, and she is clearly driven, she clearly works hard, and so she has done well. Particularly since she didn’t have the best of starts in life. Her father was abusive; he tyrannised his family. Now he has died, Alice’s relationship with her mother is strained, and her relationship with her mentally ill brother, who she desperately wants to help and support, is strained. She holds people at a distance, and her relationships with men tend to be short term; but she is a loyal friend. And at night she runs. Coping strategies maybe, but she was coping with life not just with her past. As we all do. The point I’m trying to make is that there was cause and effect, that there was depth, that the psychology rang true, and that Alice was a credible, believable character.Alice asked by the police to assess Maurice Cley – a known associate of Ray and Marie Benson, who had been convicted for murdering thirteen young women at the London hostel they ran – as he was due to be released from prison. Her assessment was that Maurice wasn’t likely to reoffend, but soon there was another murder bearing all of the Bensons’ trademarks – including some that had never been made public. And it became clear that Alice was at risk …..The story had many familiar elements, and the Benson case was clearly inspired by the case of Fred and Rosemary West, but the story played out well enough. What brought it to life though, was Alice’s story. She ended one relationship and began another – with a policeman. She was putting up an actress friend. She was deeply concerned about her brother, who had parked his van nearby, and she feared that he might have seen things or done things.It was a wonderful human story, and it was clear that Kate Rhodes really understood her characters and difficult mental heath issues. The psychology was pitch perfect, and her view was clear and unflinching. And I see so much potential here for a series.Alice did, to some degree, place herself at risk. But I did understand that she wanted – needed – to keep running, to stick to her usual routine. And I realised, near the end, when she paid the price, that what she did that night she did in the heat of the moment, without thinking it through. She wouldn’t be the first, and she definitely wouldn’t be the last.That set up a dramatic conclusion. It felt inevitable, and I had identified the killer correctly, but it was the sort of book that made that not matter. I was caught up in Alice’s story, in an excellent psychological drama.And I must praise the writing – Kate Rhodes uses words very, very well, and she has the rare and wonderful gifts of being able to load a sentence with meaning and be subtle at the same time. That quality of writing, and fine creation and understanding of character and relationships, are more than good enough for me to want to keep reading her books.
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Reviews
Cleo Bannister
Crossbones Yard is where Alice Quentin finds a woman's body, just outside the memorial gates to the graveyard where fallen women were buried from the 16th Century.This crime novel works well, Alice is a psychologist with a difficult past who is asked by the police to interview Maurice Cley a man who is due to be released from prison. Maurice was a close friend of the serial killers Ray and Marie Benson who had killed 13 young women . With a potential copycat killing Alice becomes more involved helping the police. Alice has plenty of other worries; her brother Will is mentally ill, her friend homeless, she is doubtful about her current relationship and she has a busy workload.I enjoyed reading the snippets of Alice's cases in her daily working life. The characters were well drawn and realistic although the constant reference to Alice's dislike of lifts and love of running began to grate by the end of the book. The writing sets this book apart with a great pace bringing the book to its dramatic conclusion.I believe this is the first of a three book deal for Kate Rhodes and I look forward to the next book in this series. I was lucky enough to receive this book from the Amazon Vine Programme
Jade Hoggins
This novel hits all the tropes in a mostly fulfilling way. Alice is a high achiever with a terrible past, which, of course, makes it difficult for her to let anyone get close to her. As usual, as protagonist she makes a lot of stupid decisions in order to advance the plot. Going for runs at night in East London when there is someone killing young women in the area and sending her death threats. Escaping those whose job it is to protect her. Having sudden bursts of lust for men who are aggressive and controlling towards her. So far so female protagonist of any romance/crime/UF/paranormal romance. However, I think Rhodes made a strong case for Alice's bad choices being a result of her 'terrible past'(tm). Psychologically, she hit a lot of the main criteria for someone with those kinds of experiences, and it was conveyed without being too heavy-handed, which was refreshing.That being said, Alice Quentin was a terrible, terrible psychologist. Certain things stuck out to me in particular: her positive prognosis for recovery in a patient suffering from anorexia, based on behaviour that was fairly standard for someone suffering from an eating disorder. Her belief in a convicted murderer's innocence after a brief conversation that made me wonder if she was hearing and seeing an entirely different exchange to the one printed on the page. At the very least she was a terrible judge of character, but the whole book was her using her skills as an accomplished and celebrated psychologist to make snap judgements about people that were consistently and completely proved utterly wrong.I also got tired of reading about her scorn for people's weight problems, eating habits and television watching. Yes, you run every day, congratulations, you're better than everyone else. Even if you do it because standing still might mean you have to face up to some of your problems for once. Which is to say that Alice was an engaging, well-written character with dimension, who confounded, irritated and amused me at various different points. I predicted the killer quite early in the book, but to be honest, it was pretty easy to separate the good from the bad by seeing how Alice felt about them and believing the opposite.
Sabrina
Kind of liked, kind of didn't. I think the plot itself was good and the fast pace kept me going, however the protagonist, Alice, was just a little too much to take. To start with, her family.. her mother is a horrid lady who insists she has done nothing but be there for her children and yet she criticizes all they do. Alice, just lets her. Surely there would be some kind of resentment or frustration at least boiling under the surface, though she still maintains her two weekly visits with her mother and allows her mothers behaviour to carry on. Her brother, obviously in need of some very serious help, though it seems all Alice does is allow her brother to do what he wants and disappear whenever he feels like it. If he is that much of a threat to not only himself but others around him, why doesn't Alice help him? Or at least get the right people involved to do it? Her best friend is lovely (and actually one of the better characters in my opinion) though a little too self involved, yet after a terrible evening for Alice, the friend comes along to complain about her (rather small in comparison) issues and Alice just sits and listens with no input on her open recent horror. This also seems to be a re-occurring thing.Ok, I get it that some people can control their feelings very well to the point of hiding them from the world, but really, even though when Alice is alone she still shows nothing. Don't want to give the story away to much but bad things happen to her and all she wants to do, is go for a run. Even at night. When there is a crazed killer after her. Surely she isn't that stupid, or has some feeling of self worth?! Some big events happen throughout the book and to be honest, Alice's response each time is always the same, nothing. I am really finding it hard to get to grips with this character though as I said, the plot is good and I'll be reading the next in the serious as I'm hopeful that something....anything.....a genuine smile at least, might actually crack with Alice. That, I'd really like to see. I'd also like to see her spend some time with her patients. We are told she is the best in her field, so lets see it. Granted she was rather busy recently what with being the killers target in this book, but I'd like to see just how good she is at her job as I just can't see any empathy or compassion coming from her. I think it would help to understand her better if we got to see her working and actually helping her patients. But as I say, I happily finished the book and am looking forward to reading the next, hopefully I'll start to understand and warm to Dr Quentin and am also looking forward to another good crime plot.
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