The Things You Didn’t See – a review

As I’m a writer that reads, this book review comes first and then the life problems are the footnote to this new style post.

The Things You Didn’t See

by

Ruth Dugdall (Goodreads Author)

Her instincts are telling her something isn’t right…

On a chilly morning in rural Suffolk, Cassandra Hawke is woken by a gunshot. Her mother is clinging on to her life, the weapon still lying nearby. Everyone thinks it’s attempted suicide—but none of it makes any sense to Cass. She’s certain there’s more to it than meets the eye.

With her husband and father telling her she’s paranoid, Cass finds an unlikely ally in student paramedic Holly. Like Cass, she believes something is wrong, and together they try to uncover the truth. But is there more to Holly’s interest than she’s letting on?

With her family and loved ones at risk, Cass must ask herself: is she ready to hear the truth, and can she deal with the consequences?

**

            Review 4.4 stars

If I went by the blurb, this book would be Cassandra Hawke’s tale – but that’s just part of this novel which starts twenty years earlier when eight-year-old Holly Redwood sees a ghost shot at a remote farm on Halloween.  The unresolved experience lurks in her past until as a trainee paramedic she is called out to help with an attempted suicide – at the same farm.

Cass doesn’t believe that her mother committed suicide but her husband and her father behave as if she is paranoid. However, she befriends Holly who believes her as the explanations don’t feel right. And Holly suffers from synaesthesia, a condition where the person can feel the emotions of others as if they are their own – a mixed blessing it seems for Holly.

The setting pulled me in, in part as I know Suffolk and Norfolk. The descriptions were immersive, blending imagined places with the real ones that matched my memories.

The author uses two POVs to differentiate the two protagonists – first person for Cass and third for Holly. First allows the reader to see into Cass’s confused thoughts – the mind some say is paranoid. There are reasons for that, but I’ll just say that those are cleverly unclear at first. Who is telling the truth?

Holly as a protagonist stood out for me – and not just because of the prologue that set the unsettling feelings going.

As a fan of first person and deep POV, I kept wanting to get inside Holly’s head more than was possible. However, two first person POVs is hard for some readers, and the author made the necessary choice choosing Cass – a mind that twists the plot. And the suspicions. Would Holly as first person POV instead been a different book?

Suicide or murder? What starts as an ‘open and shut’ case, works through murder suspects at a steady pace that was in danger of losing me – especially when I identified the culprit or thought I did. But there was enough drama for me to read on and meet all the secondary characters – including the suspects. They all had their own traits and worked. But too many felt irritating, even if there was some justification for their attitudes. Death and murder have repercussions. Or do they for everyone? Who profits?

This is not a rushed mystery but as the plot deepens, the pace picks up. I had my suspicions, but my suspect remained hidden from the police for a long time. There was a point where I felt the story was being drawn-out, but I was also teased and tested. Suicide can be instigated, and I have experienced that. But that may or may not be the resolution?

Am I teasing or tempting you? Read this recommended novel to find out what happens in this cleverly crafted story. The twist works even if…well, you’ll see what I mean.

Story – four stars

Setting/World-building – five stars

Authenticity – five stars

Characters – four stars

Structure – four stars

Readability – four stars

Editing – five stars

**

Falling Future

I was aiming to write this review for Thursday 3rd January, but I was still working through New Year emails, my IWSG post, and other messages that overwhelmed me into Friday and beyond. And then came the weekend, and writing was not easy as my mind was fractured by my MS. Plus, the emails kept coming.

Anyway, this review was delayed until I could make a realistic space – and create a new banner that lets me post any day of the week.

UPDATE: Added the banner as I forgot yesterday – distracted by this new WordPress layout.

It didn’t help that I fell on the floor – or rather crashed out of my manual wheelchair transferring to a power chair. We’ve been looking at buying a power wheelchair, but they are expensive – especially on two retirement incomes. Second-hand is more manageable so that is the route we are going.

Falling hurts – especially when I smashed my head, broke a tooth, and bruised my right arm; I’m right-handed. Falling could be a theme too – for my memoir. Falling in love, falling from horses (or ponies) and falling ill – which means falling on the ground.

So, do I start working on / distracting myself with my life story? Should it be called ‘The Art of Falling’ or ‘A Life of Falling’ or something else?

Next week’s new arrival

Who Cares?

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Does anyone care if I get to Z? I’m burning myself out this April.

Does anyone care if I miss letters?  I’ve done 12 and have 14 more to do.

Who cares if the games are obscure? O is going to be tough, perhaps N even – and then there’s X and Y.

Does anyone care if I haven’t played all the games? I’ve never played on anything but a PC – Nintendo and PlayStation seem to have evaded me. Yet, many of the biggest franchises have been console games.

Do I care what happens? Well, I hate starting and leaving anything half-finished. I don’t like un-finished reads. But most of my draft novels are unfinished.

So why not my posts?

Maybe, I can just post the titles. Or be kind and give some clues – like in a puzzle game.

Except…I care and that hurts now – along with my fingers, head and more. I wish I could lie down.

Insecure and Invalid  

Insecure Writers Support Group Badge

 

Apologies that I missed my monthly post for Insecure Writer’s Support Group Day, although only by about twenty-four hours. I even have a valid excuse and a doctor’s note – well pages of notes and homework.

Wind back to Monday – basically, I had woken early Monday morning with terrible MS spasms throughout my body. They were so bad that my wife Juanita thought she was losing me, but she helped me through the nightmare. Then throughout the day, there was a growing stream of MS symptoms starting with an inability to type coherently. That was very clear in my final post on Facebook:

“After a terrible night when Juanita Clarke was luckily tere for me, psting is very hard as mystyping everything. So apologies for siaslence.”

From then on, my wife had to keep everyone on Facebook informed of what happened. The shaking became uncontrollable and I slid out of my wheelchair at which point, Juanita rang her granddaughter Jessica, who dashed around to help. Her middle son Jason also arrived. I then vomited up my supper all over the office carpet. Jason phoned 911 and the paramedics arrived in a fire truck and an ambulance.

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I was taken to the ER at St Luke’s Hospital, Meridian where they diagnosed pneumonia which had triggered those MS symptoms. In short, I ended up spending three nights in hospital being pumped with drugs and fluids, sucked of blood, and cared for by a great team at St Luke’s – too many to mention by name but you know who you are, especially if I grilled you about your ancestry or talked incessantly about my writing.

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Throughout this all I missed my wife, Juanita, although she did visit me – at the hospital where she spent two night after her heart attack in late December. Our dogs were always on my thoughts as they couldn’t visit, but I had to confront everything I would lose if I gave up. So now I am back home and posting this explanation for my tardiness and failure to post yesterday.

Yes, I know I posted ‘D is for Donibane’ but some of my A to Z Challenge posts were written and scheduled in advance. However, the last one written and scheduled is ‘I is for Ice’. Hopefully, I can stay ahead, but I won’t be taking Sundays off unless the doctor orders me to rest…. which she has.

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Why Ignore the Symptoms?

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Ignorance is bliss, supposedly, but that is not the answer. Nor is this a post about Writing. Health is today’s imperative – your health.

This is my contribution to the Survive and Thrive Bloghop! This blogfest, hosted by Stephen Tremp, Michael Di Gesu, L Diane Wolfe, and Alex J Cavanaugh, is “meant to bring awareness of disease prevention and early detection regarding medical conditions that may be averted or treated if caught in the early stages. Our desire is to motivate people to go in for early screening, and if a condition is caught early and treated, then our world just became a little better place to live.”

So why ignore your symptoms, because you are coping? They might go away – or they might get worse. I suspect that the doctor would prefer an early diagnosis than the complications of extended treatment.

Minor-seeming ailments could be the symptom of something worse. My earliest Multiple Sclerosis symptoms were subtle and could have been ignored. I went to my doctor and he diagnosed Repetitive Strain Injury, but, when the symptoms flared up again, I was sent for more extensive tests. These tests led, within three months, to the diagnosis that I had MS. I could have ignored the problems, continued driving – with extreme difficulty – and the consequences could have been far worse than early retirement, a wheelchair and a rebellious body.

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I’m not suggesting that doctors will always get their diagnosis right. There have been some tragic cases of medical incompetence. I might have gained a daughter when I got re-married, but within four months of her birthday in December 2010, she had died of stage four stomach cancer. A tragedy as she was a wonderful person, but the doctor told her that the stomach cramps were just acid reflux.

That suggests that if the problem persists, you should seek a second, third, fourth opinion. Don’t ignore the symptoms because the first doctor says you have a mild cold.

Maybe there is great value in the Chinese philosophy that prevention is the best cure. Traditionally, Chinese doctors had failed when a patient fell ill. But that’s another post. Just eat healthy until then.

 

Chicken Soup ~ Image courtesy of tiramisustudio at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Chicken Soup ~ Image courtesy of tiramisustudio at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

PLEASE VISIT OTHER BLOGFEST PARTICIPANTS

 

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