Cover Image: Hokey Pokey

Hokey Pokey

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Member Reviews

A full review was published on my blog in May.

I heard so much about HOKEY POKEY and was instantly intrigued. 1920s? Birmingham? Mystery vibes? Please, I am begging anyone who has a story like this to just send it my way. I did also hear how this book was just not what folks were expecting… some were disappointed, others were excited. Now, I love a good divisive story, and I just had to read it for myself. And listen… this is such a clever book. It’s unpleasant. None of the characters are likeable (in fact, I love-hate all of them). It’s gory. It’s so so strange and I caught myself being like “… what?” and needing to re-read a few pages to make sure I had read what I read. But it’s so readable.
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I fell in love with the cover of this book the moment I saw it, and was delighted that it fitted the story inside absolutely perfectly. The 1920s setting, the grand hotel with the upstairs/ downstairs feel, the supernatural element- all came together in an absolute triumph. Loved it, have been recommending it to everyone ever since.
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This one starts as a slow burner and then picks up speed. Part murder mystery and part supernatural, it’s one I would definitely recommend if you want something a little unsettling.
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I love books set in the 20s - and this apparently cosy setting for a murder suddenly becomes much less comfortable for the reader than books set in a similar period. The protagonist, psychoanalyst Nora Dickinson checks in to a hotel under a false name.
Like many great detective stories this offers a 'locked room' scenario. In this case a terrible snow storm isolates the hotel – and its guests – from the outside world - and that's when everything changes, 

Well worth a read.
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I wanted read this book because I had the idea it was a golden age story’s. The plot is simple, the story is simple and the characters where interesting and I enjoy the mystery in the book. I expected it be a Agatha type of mystery but end up being a very rare thriller.
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I found the blurb to be a little misleading in terms of the story. I was expecting more of a historical mystery whereas it's a bit more supernatural or horror genre than I would generally go for. So this is why it's not one I'd recommend or that I enjoyed. I liked the characters, and it was well written just not my kind of story.
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Nora arrives at the Regent Hotel ready to keep an eye on a young opera singer there. Could she be having an affair. Nora has her own reasons for her actions and then a snow storm traps everyone there. A much more frightening situation seems upon them. 

Wow this wasn't what I was expecting when I started reading but I thoroughly enjoyed it. It was very dark and twisted. The plot is a slow one broken into sections as we learn how everything came to be. There are a few twists along the way that add to the mystery. The characters are all fascinating but not particularly likeable. Nora did grow on me by the end and you want her to be okay. The ending was interesting and tied the story off well. A dark twisted story.
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This is a fun book which takes a couple of days to digest what you have just read. The premise is simple. Asked by ex-colleague Leo to follow his wife Berenice Oxbow, Nora Dickinson, a psychologist by profession with an almost supernatural ability to mimic any voice she hears ends up snowed in at a Birmingham hotel during the winter of 1929 amid a murder mystery.

The book slowly peals back Nora's life from childhood, meeting Leo and right up to the present day, albeit in 1929.

Then the book takes the reader off a cliff edge and becomes something completely different. More supernatural, more horror.

Well recommended and one to go back to after a while and see what the author was trying to do before the jump in genre.
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A really enjoyable read that had me captivated from the start all the way through until the end. I would highly recommend
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This was weird. It started out fairly straight forward, and seemed more historical thriller than horror, and then when the creepy elements started to show up it felt very much like it was all going to be imagined rather than real, and it seemed to stay on the fence about this for a long time, rocking back and forth. There were some time jumps that felt more like a separate story than part of a whole, and by the time we then got back to the hotel I’d forgotten where we had left off. The twist felt really out of left field, as well as how it all wrapped up.
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Hokey Pokey starts as a classic jazz age mystery with an Agatha Christie vibe and quickly deteriorates into a deeply disturbing thriller. Dr. Nora Dickinson is on a mission to expose her friend’s wife’s infidelity at a fancy hotel when she overhears what she assumes to be fraudulent prophecy about herself. 

We delve deeper into Nora’s past and discover horrors there, as well as in the main timeline. She is a not-quite-human supernatural being, able to repeat anything she hears as a perfect copy. She uses this in dogging the steps of her friend’s errant wife now, but she has used it in far shadier avenues in her murky past. That shady past is starting to catch up to Nora on her current assignment.

Kate Mascarenhas’ writing style and storytelling pacing was excellent and I was extremely annoyed when real life intruded on my reading time and I had to stop. Who needs sleep anyway? You certainly won’t be able to after reading some of the scenes in this book. 

Even when scenes in this book contained more mundane events, the vibe of a tense thriller was still palpable, which is to me a real skill. I was constantly on edge. The parts of the book that took a turn into horror and thriller territory fully pushed me into a small panic response. This is exaclty what I want in a thriller book, but if you are avoiding some triggers, perhaps tread lightly.

Relevant triggers: murder, dismemberment, child abuse
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I quite liked the first half of Hokey Pokey where I was enjoying the psychoanalyst Nora stalking the beautiful opera singer Berenice in a 1920's Birmingham hotel.  It seemed to be shaping up to be a bit of a glamorous thriller, perhaps with an unreliable narrator.  Hokey Pokey was a cocktail named after the local word for stinging nettle. 

But then it all went off the rails into silliness. I found all the supernatural hyring stuff to be unconvincing and unnecessarily gory.  I've definitely enjoyed the author's other books more, so maybe it was just me!

Three stars for the first half.
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A mishmash of murder, ghost story with a historical setting. I enjoyed this slightly gothic tale set in the luxury of the Regent Hotel. It was my first by thus author and I'd definitely pick up another one. This is probably a 3.5 for me rather than a 3, I found I didn't quite engage with the characters enough to really care about what was going on but my interest was still piqued!
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At the beginning of this book the ingredients of a Hokey Pokey cocktail are offered. And even though I am not much into spirits, that the main ingredient of the cocktail is absinthe tells me that this is probably rather strong stuff.

In addition, the dedication places this book in the horror genre.

And then we enter into the unfolding story that takes place in 1929 in The Regent Hotel in Birmingham when weather conspires and travel stops and free movement is suspended for the time this snow storm/rain lasts.

We meet Nora as she books into The Regent, which is an invented hotel according to the author's note at the end of the book, and Nora  comes with the mission to spy on another hotel guest. 

From the beginning it there is the hint that we most likely deal with an unreliable narrator even though Nora can mimic anything and anyone she encounters to perfection, and yet, perception itself can be treacherous, when we enter into the maze that human mind can be.

From Nora's check in at the hotel the story unfolds with an opera singer involved, snowstorm, murder and strange apparitions in hotel rooms. The story turns from creepy to scary to horror to fairy talesque, then, eventually comes to a conclusion of its own.

This book definitely is a ride. It comes with a combination of psychoanalysis, fairy tales and murder mixed together with longing, ownership and a wish to dominate, that at times really makes you feel that you just downed another Hokey Pokey.

The end is not really surprising, but it holds this note of positivity, of change having taken place that might make this book just worthwhile to read and ponder for a moment or two.

I received an eARC of this book from the publisher via Netgalley in return of an honest review.
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I loved Kate Mascarenhas' "The Psychology of Time Travel" but unfortunately her other books have been hit and miss for me. This story just did not engage me, and I couldn't connect with the characters, though I liked how ambitious the plot was.
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It's not the best by Kate Mascarenhas: entertaining but there's something off that doesn't work and made the story less entertaining and compelling than the previous novels
3.5 upped to 4
Many thanks to the publisher for this ARC, all opinions are mine
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I gave up on this book. i thought the initial premise was interesting, especially the way the lead character had this uncanny knack for imitating people. But the plot never really got going. I got bored quite quickly, and didn't find any character that I connected with. It wasn't an awful story by any means, just not something that grabbed me. 
Idea was cool, setting was great, but execution just fell flat imho.
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If you like historical settings and mystery then this is for you. I enjoyed it and would highly recommend
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A ghost story, a mystery, a period drama Kate Mascarena’s Hokey Pokey has all three and more. 
Nora Dickinson is on a mission for her former lover Leo. He thinks his wife, Berenice Oxbow, a famous opera singer, is being unfaithful while on her tour of Europe. Birmingham, it’s a hotbed of lust you know.
That’s Birmingham, England where the characters assemble in the Regent Hotel, a fictional combination of various luxury lodgings including the Grand where I’ve been drunk more than once n the past. It’s 1929; the end of the 20s brings the rich to a luxurious hotel for Christmas. Some are residents and some passing through. Many are not what they seem, including the staff.  A heavy fall of snow leaves the residents stranded. That’s never a good thing.
Nora is caught between memories of her childhood, a haunting and a desire to please Leo. She’s aware of many things that are wrong, not least because she’s a psychoanalyst herself. As the parade of characters are introduced there’s a very Agatha Christie vibe but beware the path through the woods, it’s not always leading to where you think it is.
I didn’t see where this was going and I really enjoyed how it merged from the shell of a mystery into an entirely different living thing. This is not a long book but like the previous novels by Mascarena it takes us on an incredible and thrilling journey. 
In case you’re wondering hokey pokey is a nettle rash. Something that continues to irritate well after the original event. This story which combines the fading glamour of the jazz age and Freudian psychology with the dark lurid fairy tales of Grimm is a most gripping read. Entertaining and intriguing this is one to enjoy again.
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I loved this part-crime, part gothic novel,
It was very atmospheric and propelled me into the retro, glamourous era of the 1920's with its five star palatial hotels frequented by the British upper middle class elite;, the cocktail gowns, the dinner jackets and posh suppers...I felt like I was there.
This could be the setting of an Agatha Christie novel: 
1929, psychoanalyst Nora Dickinson checks into the glamourous Regent Hotel in Birmingham under a false name to shadow and investigate the famous opera singer, Berenice Oxbow, an esteemed guest at the hotel.
As a snow storm isolates the hotel and its guests from the outside world; the plot develops and thickens; murder and panic descend on the hotel.., it is no longer clear if Nora is a heroine or a victim; as she is grappling with reality and old nightmares...
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