|The Last Stage by Louise Voss|
|Reviewer: Sue Magee|
|Summary: Put time aside - if you start this book you will not be able to resist reading on to the end as quickly as possible. It's well plotted, with excellent characters and was a real pleasure to read.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 300||Date: May 2019|
|Publisher: Orenda Books|
|External links: Author's website|
If you were looking back to when it began you'd have to say that it was before 1995. Meredith Vincent (that wasn't her name then) had gone to Greenham Common on her seventeenth birthday, dressed as a teddy bear, to protest about nuclear weapons. It was whilst she was there that she met Samantha, fell head over heels in love with her and went to live in a squat in London, leaving behind her A levels, her recently-widowed mother - and her twin brother, Pete, to look after her. Samantha was there occasionally but Meredith was drawn into forming a band with the boys from the squat and against all the odds Cohen went on to become a sensation and it wasn't long before Meredith was living in a mansion rather than the squat.
There had been odd problems: threatening letters passed on from the fan club, small acts of vandalism, but Meredith thought that by keeping a low profile whilst she was off stage she could avoid any problems and she did, until the night of the incident which led to her leaving the band without any notice - they weren't best pleased and Cohen was never able to replicate its earlier successes. Meredith wasn't exactly hiding: she'd taken a job as the manager of a stately home gift shop and she lived in a cottage on the estate. It was there that she found the first body, that of her boss, with whom she'd had an unfortunate encounter not long before his death.
Despite the vast numbers of books published it's unusual to find a book which really holds your attention from beginning to end. The Last Stage did. The plotting is very good. Despite making copious notes as I read (it's the curse of reviewing - you have to get all the proper nouns right), even including the name of the killer, I still didn't manage to work out whodunnit. All the clues were there: it's a book I plan on reading again before too long - I want to see how Louise Voss did it!
The characters are good: I didn't entirely warm to Meredith at first but as I understood a little more of her background I began to realise why she was the way she was and I started to root for her. I loved the relationship she had with her twin brother: an unusual closeness despite their different personalities and a backstory which hadn't all been plain sailing. I hope to hear more of the detective, Gemma McMeekin. In her late twenties, she has a brace on her teeth and looks as though she's in her teens, but it would be a mistake to underestimate her. The female characters perhaps come off the page a little more sharply than their male counterparts, but that's me being very picky.
What I liked best was the way that the plot was delivered. We hear about what's happening in the present day and we hear just enough about what went on in the eighties and nineties to allow us to make sense of it. Normally this annoys me, but Voss handles it with delicacy and subtlety and it worked well. I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy of the book to the Bookbag - I look forward to reading what Voss produces next.
If you'd like something else to read of similar quality I can suggest Jane Casey's books.
You can read more book reviews or buy The Last Stage by Louise Voss at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy The Last Stage by Louise Voss at Amazon.com.
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