Some authors spend their whole careers writing the same book over and over. The names and plot twists and setting may vary, but readers know exactly what to expect. Lexi Revellian is not that kind of author. A new book is always a magical mystery tour. Will it be fantasy? Or maybe sci-fi? Will there be a murder or a kidnapping? But some things stay the same. There’s always a romance simmering. There’s always action and excitement and a heroine who falls into the normal range of humanity instead of being some super-badass weapon-wielding superwoman. And invariably they keep me totally hooked and put a great big smile on my face. Is it any wonder that a new Revellian book goes straight to the top of my to-read pile?
This one features wealthy Russian
emigrants with secrets (the word ‘oligarch’ crops up a lot) and
political tension and even spies and secret dossiers. Our heroine,
Tyger, is the daughter of wandering hippies (which you could probably
guess from the name) who missed out on a formal education, but is now
determined to get a degree and a respectable job. So she cleans houses
by day, pulls pints in a bar by night and studies for the Open
University in what little spare time she has. Her latest cleaning job
sees her working for Russian oligarch Grisha Markovic, but one day she
arrives at work only to be held at gunpoint by a hooded man who forces
her to unlock the doors and show him to Grisha’s room. And things go
steadily downhill from there.
I liked Tyger very much. She’s
practical and intelligent, she doesn’t take stupidly implausible risks,
and she reacts to the increasingly worrying events around her in
sensible and believable ways. Her not-really-a-boyfriend Kes is not
quite so well-drawn, but then he doesn’t get so much screen time. The
minor characters all seem very real, with distinctive personalities:
Izzie the flirty barmaid, Chrissie the pernickety flatmate, Rose the
hoarder, even Cherie the trapeze artist, a trivial walk-on part. It
takes real writing talent to create characters that live and breathe and
are still memorable when the book is finished. I did wonder how
accurate the Russians’ distinctive accent was, but it sounded quite
believable to me.
There was quite a lot of political backstory to
squeeze in, and the author has clearly done her research; occasionally I
felt I could have done with fewer details about Anglo-Russian relations
or circuses or motorhome interiors, but that’s a very minor quibble.
The London setting was brought vividly to life; and who would have
thought there was a bathing pool for ladies only?
The plot raced
along, and kept me turning the pages. However, despite the gun-in-hand
cover picture, and the spies and bad-boy Russians theme, this never
turned into one of those action-at-all-costs thrillers. This is a
gentler, less violent (and much more realistic) version. There were
plenty of dramatic moments, but in between life went on more-or-less as
normal in a thoroughly British way. Some characters that I was sure were
villains turned out not to be. Characters I thought might get bumped
off survived. And always there was a patina of subtle humour which kept
Another great read from one of my favourite
authors. Highly recommended for anyone looking for an entertaining
mystery with a strong dollop of romance. I loved it, and yes, the ending
put a great big smile on my face. A good four stars.