Venus Was Her Name, a review by Joanna

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Venus Was Her Name
Patricia Dixon
Bloodhound Books
330 pages
Published on July 18th, 2022
This was a stand-alone contemporary family drama/suspense novel by a British author who is new to me, but that I have noticed being recommended in recent years. When a post in the Bloodhound ARC group mentioned “ageing rock star” and “France” in the same sentence, I was sold. It takes a modern look at the excesses of the 1980s rock scene, and the consequences that emerge decades later, with a mostly sympathetic group of characters.
Joe Jarrat was once the singer in the world’s biggest rock band, NorthStar, but now he lives quietly in a converted farmhouse on the Brittany coast with his gentle son Ace, his dogs and his memories of his wild days. Edie is Ace’s new girlfriend, who is visiting for the first time on a holiday to celebrate his birthday, and she’s nervous about meeting Joe and his family & friends. Then Joe learns that a new documentary is about to expose the band’s dark history, his manager and best friend is seriously ill, and an obsessed stalker is sending death threats. As the family are trapped inside by two storms – one media and one meteorological – the secrets which are revealed will change everything.
This was well written with chapters from various of the characters’ distinctive perspectives. Obviously I was most interested in kindly 61 year old rocker Joe (I’d love to know who he was inspired by!) but I loved sensitive photographer Ace and bossy housekeeper Nanou. I actually felt a bit sorry for much-maligned poor little rich boy Lance, so liked the way his story arc played out. The mystery was well done – I didn’t guess how the plot would turn out and liked the ending and how everything was wrapped up, even if it was all a bit convenient. Oh and the cover art is gorgeous!
The story is set either pre-pandemic, or in an alternate reality where Covid is not mentioned, while Me Too is not referenced by name but plays a prominent part. The only thing I didn’t like was all the cliffhanger chapter endings where the next one has jumped forward hours or more then goes back to explain what happened, it just felt unnecessarily disjointed. This is only a minor niggle and I’ll definitely be looking to read more from this author, who happily already has a solid back catalogue for me to check out.

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