Reviews

Unravelling

Seriously, I'm blown away. Unravelling by Helen Forbes draws you in from the first exciting sentence to the very last word. Forbes is an outstanding wordsmith and this is apparent throughout the book. This is writing which invites and tantalises, drawing you in word by perfectly crafted word. Page-turner may be a cliche but it certainly applies in this case.

 

Wendy Jones, Author

Unravelling is an engrossing, claustrophobic psychological thriller. It was tense at times, and sorrowful. The insights into serious mental illness were so emotive, and I admit I blubbed. It was compulsive too. I just had to read on, I had to know. The ending was swift and satisfying, and hopeful. For me, I felt that Kate’s story was in a way a – not redemption exactly – more a second chance for Ellen. It was definitely an unputdownable, engrossing read, and I highly recommend this book.

 

Caron Allan, Author and Blogger

I devoured this book in one sitting - I couldn't put it down. It is tense, intense, well plotted, beautifully written and constructed with cleverly drawn characters who are vivid and alive. There's sadness and there's laughter too. Inverness is a central character and the city carries the responsibility well. It's a book that needs to be read. I highly recommend it.

 

Margot McCuaig, Author

From the minute I opened Unravelling, I felt confident that I was in the hands of a gifted writer. Forbes skilfully weaves the threads of her narrative together, dropping the odd clue, as a rookie knitter drops stitches, but all the time with the utmost skill. I was gripped by this novel. Kate and Ellen and Sif will stay in my head long after I’ve put Unravelling up on the shelf. Funny, sad and wise, this is a great read and I would heartily recommend it.

Ruth Leigh, Author and Blogger

Unravelling is beautifully written and cleverly plotted, by a writer who knows exactly what she’s doing, but it’s much more than that. Meticulously researched, the exploration of mental illness is nuanced and compassionate, the setting and characters captured with an authenticity that will instantly speak to anyone with a knowledge of the area.

 

Margaret Kirk, Author

 

In the Shadow of the Hill

 

It is a thoroughly excellent thriller . . . which explodes into a finale which I dare any reader to predict.  Her style is smooth and sweet.  Harris Noir has come home

 

Roger Hutchison, Author

If you give it as a present, don’t expect to hear from the person you gave it to for a couple of days . . . and then take some food round because they might have forgotten to eat anything while they were reading it!  This is a story raw with passion, with deception, and with intrigue

 

Fred Silver, Scottish Islands Explorer Magazine

Helen Forbes has hit the ground running.  The page-turning climax has more twists and turns than the road to the isles, making it impossible to put down

 

Press and Journal

You may think you know what is going on in the story, but trust me – you don’t. Unless that is, you have a mind of the most perverse sort… in the nicest possible way, naturally. What follows involves the unraveling of several lives, and dark deeds of the past being revealed and judged in the present.  I liked the way that Helen Forbes uses the metaphor of the hill. Ceapabhal is its name in Gaelic and it broods over the action both past and present.  A musical term best describes the author’s performance at this point – bravura. The last 50 pages or so had me utterly gripped in a mixture of bewilderment and admiration

 

Crime Fiction Lover, the site for die-hard crime and thriller fans

I loved this book. It’s a no-nonsense thriller that has you wondering from the beginning and reeling by the end. The author has created characters that are likeable and that you care about, which is refreshing as a lot of recent crime fiction seems to have dispensed with that crucial aspect of a novel. I felt as though I was part of the story, the descriptions being so convincing. All in all, a great read that ticks all the boxes – good characters, exciting plot, fascinating backdrop

 

Jackie McLean, Author

There’s an Ann Cleeves meets Ian Rankin and Kate Atkinson vibe going on here. This book is not just any old crime fiction, it’s Tartan Noir crime fiction, and it’s set in the Hebrides. It starts in Inverness on a slow burn and gradually picks up pace until after several clever, unforeseen twists it reaches its exciting conclusion on the island of Harris. The characters are believable and well fleshed out, especially the main character of DS Joe Galbraith who is both flawed and likeable. I definitely look forward to getting to know him as well as I know Jackson Brodie and John Rebus

 

Anne Stormont, Author

Madness Lies

Madness Lies is a murky tale.  Forbes twisting her noose ever tighter around some sympathetic characters.  Gritty and ominous, Forbes’s brand of ‘Highland Noir’ is shaping up to be a good series. 

Sunday Herald

The book is a gripping insight into friendship and betrayal, unexpected motivation and manipulative personalities.  The writing is crisp and brisk, enabling the story to move fast.  And it’s robust and full of energy. 

Fred Silver, Scottish Islands Explorer Magazine

Helen Forbes does spin a good yarn.  She clears the hurdles facing Highland Noir.  She wins our poetic faith. 

Roger Hutchison, Author

If anything Madness Lies is even better than its predecessor.  The characters are engaging. Joe Galbraith is the perfect mix of strong and vulnerable and the supporting cast are expertly drawn. The climax is superb and the ending flows well from all that has gone before.  This book definitely comes into the category of difficult to put down. First class crime fiction.  

Anne Stormont, Author

Madness Lies has it all; murder, drugs, mental health, prostitution and dysfunctional relationships. It provides a sharp and dark journey into the underbelly of the North East of Scotland taking us from Inverness to North Uist and London before a chilling climax at Black Rock Gorge which featured in Harry Potter, The Goblet of Fire. It was full of twists, shocks and heart-rending moments as I got completely caught up in the lives of the characters and the streets of the locations. Helen Forbes has created a cracker of a read here and she is certainly a name that I will be looking out for in Scottish Crime Fiction.

Sharon Bairden, Author