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4.6 out of 5 stars
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 8 August 2014
Simon walked out of his family home twenty-five years ago, leaving his wife and three small children. His keys, his car, his wallet were all left behind. He just vanished. No sign of their husband and daddy and no body to mourn. It was a total mystery. Then he walked back in. Meanwhile, his wife had rebuilt her life and made herself a good career. The children he abandoned did well in later life. Why did he leave? Generally speaking I find it hard to enjoy a story when I dislike or fail to empathise with the main character. I couldn’t agree with or approve of Simon’s actions but eventually, through the story he tells his ex-wife, who was forced to have him declare dead, we find out the influences on his life which turned him into the man he eventually became.

This is a story which slips back and forth in time and is told from two different points of view. That can be confusing but I didn’t find it so here. Teasingly, the fragments of their history are unfolded and only at the end, as they each give their own point of view, do we see what happened, and how damaged Simon was by his own background. Sometimes, you can’t find an excuse but you can find a reason. Amazingly good tale and I’ll happily read more from this author.
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on 25 January 2015
I found this book hard to put down, even though I found the jumping around of 'time' a bit difficult at first, I didn't notice it the more I went into the book. The characters were believable and the emotions were quite raw in parts. The book was sad and touching in parts and equally there were horrific and dark moments. It was a roller coaster of ups and downs in the characters lives. I enjoyed the style of writing and I hope this author writes more as I would definitely read another of his books. A proper gripping read, a page turner at its best - I finished it in a few days, where books usually take me a couple of weeks, I somehow found time to sit down and read, read, read. Brilliant.
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on 8 June 2014
What can I say? As the story unfolded I could see this as a drama serial or a film.It was written so matter of factly such a powerful story of a fractured life.I don't want to give away the plot but this book is well worth the read.You might want to close your eyes at some parts but don't.It is brilliant.
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on 5 August 2015
I will confess I wasn't hooked on this book until halfway through and then wham!!!! I literally could not put it down, everything else had to wait until I got to the end to find out the myriad secrets that led to tragedy and disaster. The book is told from two viewpoints - Simon's, who left the family 25 years earlier, simply walked away and disappeared - and Catherine's. the wife left behind to cope with his disappearance and raise their heartbroken children alone. Again, I confess, that it was Simon's story that most intrigued me but again, from halfway, Catherine's becomes just as fascinating as slowly, slowly, the mystery unravels. I was shocked and saddened in turns as the twists just kept on coming. I even began to feel sympathy for Simon, a huge accomplishment on the part of the author because his past sins are not of the forgivable variety. A haunting book, the characters, the choices they made and what happened because of them, will stay with you for days afterwards. I'm now off to see what else John Marr's has to offer.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 11 June 2015
This was recommended to me by THE Book club and I am so glad I succumbed to my one-click addiction and bought it.
It is another of those books written in the present with flashbacks to the past to explain/enhance the story. Simon walked out on his wife and kids over 20 years ago leaving his wife to have to try and pick up the pieces and rebuild her own life, bringing up the children as a single parent, despite never really finding out why he did it. Eventually he has him declared dead.
And then he comes back.
Through more flashbacks and present day conversation between Catherine and Simon we learn the reasons why he did what he did.
This is a great debut by Mr Marrs. Characterisation is good (although I am not sure I really liked many of the characters), language and writing style easy to follow and there is a good balance between descriptive passages and "getting on with the story". The ending is a little predictable in parts but leaves the reader satisfied.
I notice Mr Marrs has a new offering out and I will definitely be reading that.
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on 9 May 2014
I've just finished this, having read it in less than a day. I write too, and the first thing I noticed was the easy, engaging writing style. It hooked me in to a story that was, in my opinion, well-plotted and well-crafted. Yes, it needs editing, and I can't help thinking that if that were done it may well catch the attention of a publisher. There are some errors regarding the timeline (the reference to Jimmy Saville is too early for this novel, for instance), and there are some typos. But I really liked the jumping around from one period to the next (I like books that move from the past to the present, anyway) and perhaps with different section headings in places, there would be no confusion as to who is 'speaking'.

*Slight spoiler alert * My biggest, and only proper criticisms are first that I feel more could have been done to explain Simon's motivation, particularly with regard to his relationship with Dougie. I think if there were more detail surrounding the boys' friendship (Simon, Steven, Roger and Dougie) and how Catherine 'invaded' this, we might have had to do less 'understanding' of what happened at the end. Motivation is always key, and can be shown rather than hinted at. Basically, I think Dougie should have figured a lot more in the earlier story. Second, I feel that some characterisation of lesser characters could have been fuller, although I think Arthur, Kenneth, Doreen and Shirley were drawn very well indeed (Shirley made me laugh out loud towards the end.)

But back to the good bits, which far outweigh any criticisms: John Marrs can 'write' both genders, something not very many writers can do well. I was as convinced by the voice of Catherine as I was by the voice of Simon. He also writes interestingly and it is most definitely a page-turner. Some reviewers have said the plot is far-fetched. Perhaps, but I bet there are people out there who could tell true-life stories about themselves that are even more outlandish than Simon's adventures!

I have given this book five stars because a) I am in awe of such an accomplished first novel; b) I love the style; c) John Marrs writes women in the first person very well and d) The next one will be even better.
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on 20 May 2014
"Wronged Sons" opens in the present day, with a man about to knock on a door. Then we go back 25 years to Catherine Nicholson, wife of Simon, and mother of three young children. She's busying herself with everyday things - feeding the dog, doing chores, until she slowly realises over the course of the day that her husband Simon is unaccounted for. His wallet and running shoes are left behind, and nobody has seen him at work. Catherine panics, and eventually realises that he's gone.

Catherine has to deal with the disappearance of her husband over the next 25 years, slowly rebuilding her life one step at a time while dealing with her grief and confusion. Eventually, she is happy and content - until there's a knock at the door.

Where has Simon been for the past 25 years? Why is he back? More importantly, why did he leave?

The book jumps backwards and forwards, both of them telling each other what happened since the day Simon left - until the truth is slowly revealed. I really loved Catherine, I thought she was a brilliant character and I really rooted for her. I detested Simon. I thought his actions and attitude were beyond comprehension and he was a horrible excuse for a human being. The writer did a fantastic job of making me despise him, which I suspect was the point.

The only problem I had with this was that the characters were sometimes indistinguishable and I had to go back and forth a few times to see who was talking - both Catherine's past and Simon's past are written in the first person, and there's no name on the chapter heading. I found it disrupted the flow of the story and annoyed me a few times. As the story progressed it was easier to know who was who because of location. It didn't ruin the story for me, but at times I was engrossed in it and it was a nuisance to have to read back to see who was talking.

This was a good thriller, and tied up all loose ends. I wasn't mad about the ending because I thought Catherine deserved better, but I will read more from this author in the future. Really impressive. Take a chance and read it!
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Twenty-five years ago Simon walks away from his family in Northamptonshire leaving his wife Catherine no clues as to what happened to him.

Split between the past and the present in the form of the confrontation between Simon and Catherine Nicholson, this is one gripping tale. We know from the blurb that Simon has been travelling the world while Catherine was left wondering what had happened to her seemingly loving husband. I was hooked right from the start with poor Catherine searching desperately with hope fading for her husband, the police and friends initially supportive until with no sign or trail to lead them to him, they reluctantly they come to the conclusion that he is probably dead.

John Marrs has plotted this book perfectly with conversation in the present, intertwined with the events in the past switching neatly at just the right time to raise the tension. Told chronologically with Simon starting at the beginning of his journey as Catherine counteracts this with the realities of her life with young children without him. It soon becomes apparent that Simon is a man who has an excuse for every action he has taken throughout their years apart, not considering for one moment that he could have made different choices.

Both Catherine and Simon shock each other with the events that have shaped their years apart and unresolved issues cause anger to bubble as Simon seeks to explain why he left and what happened while he was gone. As we inch towards the present there are many jaw-dropping moments. If you pick up this book, expect to be shocked!

This is a book that firmly deserves to be defined as a page-turner.
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on 13 February 2015
I bought this book ages ago, and haven't read it for some reason until recently.I have no idea why because its excellent.Its one of the best books I've read in a while.Its quite a dark book and one of the main characters is not some one I'd want to invite over for tea but at the same time you want to find out what is going to happen .Its an interesting plot and I don't want to give any thing away but it did keep me page turning way into the night especially towards the end of the book.I thought it was great and will be looking out for more books by this author I think hes a clever writer.
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on 30 December 2015
OMG what a book! Seriously it rattled me every way possible! Couldn't give it any less than 5 stars!

25 years ago, Simon walks out of his house and out of his family's life forever - his wife Catherine and her young children are devastated - then 25 years later he walks back in - ready to tell his story.

Wronged Sons is told from 2 periods in time - the present when Simon reappears and the past when he disappeared - while this seems a little confusing to start with it soon clicks into place.

Throughout the book as they both tell their side of the story we are aware that there is something huge missing and nothing will ever make sense until it is revealed; we catch a glimpse of past lives and the impact that the actions of others can have on individuals. It is a real tale of relationship breakdowns, miscommunication and lies designed to protect others. I felt angry at Simon as I read and pain for his children left behind but each revelation left me reeling and by the end I felt emotionally exhausted.

Not the fastest paced book but a compelling read which will leave you reeling!
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