Cruel Summer – James Dawson

Fade in: One Year Ago
Against the white cliffs, the girl in the red dress was as vivid as a drop of blood. Even by moonlight, the rugged shoreline was visible for miles at sea: two vast cave mouths yawned, black stains scarring the chalk. The tide was coming in, advancing on a dark, rocky beach; the surf sighed over the shingle as the waves crept closer.”

The holiday seemed like a good idea to Ryan, he would finally have his friends all together again, all except Janey of course. A year since her death and still the niggle was there for Ryan that it wasn’t just suicide, there was more to it than that… and now was his chance to quiz his friends about it, but how. Thankfully he doesn’t have to dwell on the question of how to bring up Janey’s death for long when an additional friend turns up out of the blue, and claims that she has evidence that Janey was murdered, with claims that the murderer is among them the sun, sea and sand holiday quickly turns into one of secrets and scenes reminiscent of the stage shows Ryan is used to seeing at his drama school, but this time they’re real life.  

***
A murder mystery set in Spain in the sun and by the sea, what more could you want? This book promised to deliver right from the moment I read the blurb and noticed the author and  it didn’t disappoint, there was a great storyline, great scenes and some edge of your seat moments, all teamed with an impeccable writing style. 
The writing was incredible, it was written just like a movie and I could feel the screen adaptation of the book coming to life in my head as I was reading it, I’d even gone as far to start thinking about what the perfect actors would look like and their wardrobes! I loved Roxanne the most because even though she was a bitch, she had such a stage presence in the book she jumped out from the pages! The characters were also incredible and most of them really did come to life, I thought each and everyone of them had a right to be there on the page, with the exception of one, which I thought fell a little flat and I didn’t really like, but I can’t say more as it may spoil parts of the story. 
The story was really great, I loved the setting and the idea and the way it all unfolded. However I did kind of pick up a few things early and they seemed to be a bit obvious for me considering it was a murder mystery plot. A lot of the things within the story were similar to other murder mystery movie plots and it really did work its way out like that for the most part. Whilst this wasn’t bad I worked out who the killer was and another twist way before the end. However I didn’t work out the motive and I have to give James Dawson kudos for that, it was well thought out! 
The niggles with this book were outweighed by the brilliant aspects of it and even though I thought I had worked some bits out, I didn’t work everything out and there were definitely some edge of your seat kind of moments. I don’t want to give too much away but not everything was as clean cut as it looked like it would be towards the beginning of the book and I really did love that. 
I would definitely recommend this book to people who love a good read but if you feel like you are the next Sherlock Holmes be prepared that there will be parts of the story that appear quite obvious. Its still more than worth a read, especially as I seem to be one of the lowest reviewers when I looked on Goodreads, and also because of the author’s incredible talent. It is obvious from the writing and the way the story unfolds; James Dawson’s storytelling is second to none. 
Cruel Summer was published on August 1st by Indigo. My copy was sent to me from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. 

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  • sometimes the writing and the story can overshadow any niggles and it’s wonderful when it does.

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  • Great review, so glad you enjoyed this one. I really enjoyed it too and loved trying to work out who did it and what the reason was – I didn’t work it out either!