21/09/13 - 'Cruel Summer' by James Dawson

If you're someone with detective tendencies and think you have any kind of skill at solving murder mysteries, I challenge you to get your hands on Cruel Summer by James Dawson.  Recently, I've started to think of myself as a right little Sherlock Holmes - minus Cumberbatch's sweeping coat and Downey Jr's cheeky confidence.  Either all murder mysteries are a little bit obvious or I really am something of a genius...but Dawson had me stumped right up until the big reveal.

A year after tragedy struck their little group in the form of their friend Janey's suicide, Ryan is looking forward to a relaxing catch-up with his friends from school at Katie's father's Spanish villa.  Unfortunately, it doesn't take long for their secluded sun-soaked paradise to become the setting for their very own horror movie nightmare as things start to unravel rapidly.

The best word I can think of to describe the experience of reading Cruel Summer is 'exhilarating'.  I read the whole thing in the time it took me to get to and from Birmingham by train, and my fellow passengers must have thought I was certifiably insane if they'd been watching me read.  My face couldn't hide my shock at each little twist (of which there are plenty), I was physically leaning forwards in my seat and devouring the book as quickly as possible, and often grinning like a loon at the brilliance of Dawson's writing.  The characters are utterly believable, right down to the way they speak and behave, and you immediately feel like one of their little gang.  Will good girl Katie and heartthrob Ben get back together?  Will wild child Alisha stay off the booze?  Who is Erin, Greg's wannabe-WAG girlfriend?  You'll find out all that and much more besides as secrets and lies come to light.  However, don't get too attached to anyone - James Dawson is not averse to a bit of a blood-bath.

Sometimes you read a book which just makes you want to write, which inspires you and makes you desperate to grab your laptop or a pen or a stick to scrape words into the sand - whatever's closest, just to do something creative.  And then you think, "With books like that in the world, is there any point me even bothering any more?" so you decide just to reread it again, feeling no motivation to compete with such excellence.  That's what Cruel Summer did for me.  It's probably the most exciting book I've read for a while and I would recommend it to absolutely anyone, to the point where I am tempted to buy an actual copy to go alongside my Kindle version for the sole purpose of easing the lending process to friends and family.

James Dawson will be in conversation with another fantastic YA author Maureen Johnson regarding 'The Gender Gap in YA Fiction' at Waterstones Piccadilly on October 7th - I'm pretty sure there are still tickets left, so you can find the details here if you scroll down.  If you're going, let me know and I'll see you there!  Please come and say hi, as I won't know a soul.

Do you love a good thriller as much as I do? Give me your recommendations in the comments!


  1. It sounds awesome! I'm only just getting into thrillers, so this one will go on my 'to read' list :)

    1. I would seriously recommend it, SUCH an exciting book! If you read it, let me know what you think :) xx