#BookReview - Soot by Andrew Martin

York, 1799.

In August, an artist is found murdered in his home - stabbed with a pair of scissors. Matthew Harvey's death is much discussed in the city. The scissors are among the tools of his trade - for Harvey is a renowned cutter and painter of shades, or silhouettes, the latest fashion in portraiture. It soon becomes clear that the murderer must be one of the artist's last sitters, and the people depicted in the final six shades made by him become the key suspects. But who are they? And where are they to be found?

Later, in November, a clever but impoverished young gentleman called Fletcher Rigge languishes in the debtor's prison, until a letter arrives containing a bizarre proposition from the son of the murdered man. Rigge is to be released for one month, but in that time, he must find the killer. If he fails, he will be incarcerated again, possibly for life.

And so, with everything at stake, and equipped only with copies of the distinctive silhouettes, Fletcher Rigge be…

Book Review: The Liar's Chair by Rebecca Whitney



The Liar's Chair isn't a novel that eases you gently into the story, on the first page we learn that married Rachel is having an affair and is now driving back home, still drunk from the night before. Within a few pages she will run over and kill a homeless man then conceal his body in nearby woods.
Not a character to warm to then, yet Rachel whilst never a likeable character is at least somebody to pity, unlike her manipulative and abusive husband, David. The Liar's Chair is certainly an unusual book in that it's hard to think of any redeeming qualities for any of its characters; Rachel's lover Will is possibly the easiest to like and he's a cocaine dealer.
Nevertheless despite the lack of protagonists to warm to, this is a book that hooked me, it follows Rachel's life as it spirals unrelentingly out of control, as she goes from being a successful businesswoman in a marriage that to the outside world looked perfect to somebody barely hanging on to her sanity and taking crazy risks that put her life in danger. David is a truly chilling character, an example of the devastating power of the abuser, both verbally and physically.
As the book progresses we gradually learn more about Rachel's past and while her present day actions often can't be excused we do at least understand more about why she has become the woman she is. My only slight criticism would be David's shady double life, it felt a little like over-egging the pudding, we already know he's a bad person but I'm not sure it was completely necessary or entirely believable for the boss of a reality TV production company to also become so involved in organised crime. However, despite my questioning the believability I can't deny it helped ratchet up the tension so I won't say it didn't work, just that it made me raise an eyebrow now and again.
The Liar's Chair isn't a light and cheerful read, it's disturbing and twisted meaning I can't say I enjoyed it as such but it's a brilliantly written and constructed psychological thriller that I couldn't put down.
With thanks to Sam Eades and Mantle, an imprint of Pan Macmillan for my copy of The Liar's Chair, published in the UK now.

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