The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena

4 stars from me!

What a solid debut from Shari Lapena – I am so looking forward to A Stranger in the House now!

I loved the start of this book, the unease of the situation and the ever so typical politeness of a dinner party that no one seems to want to be at.

The Couple Next Door is a smash and grab thriller that you will race through as you move from one scenario to another changing your mind constantly about who/what/why and where.

Mainly unpredictable and a definite page turner.

This is another book of mainly unlikeable characters, all of whom it seems are working to their own hidden agenda.

Hold on to your hat, there are plot twists agogo packed into these pages!

 

Synopsis: It all started at a dinner party. . .

A domestic suspense debut about a young couple and their apparently friendly neighbors – a twisty, rollercoaster ride of lies, betrayal, and the secrets between husbands and wives. . .

Anne and Marco Conti seem to have it all – a loving relationship, a wonderful home, and their beautiful baby, Cora. But one night when they are at a dinner party next door, a terrible crime is committed. Suspicion immediately focuses on the parents. But the truth is a much more complicated story.

Inside the curtained house, an unsettling account of what actually happened unfolds. Detective Rasbach knows that the panicked couple is hiding something. Both Anne and Marco soon discover that the other is keeping secrets, secrets they’ve kept for years.

What follows is the nerve-racking unraveling of a family – a chilling tale of deception, duplicity, and unfaithfulness that will keep you breathless until the final shocking twist.

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One Step Too Far by Tina Seskis

4 Stars from me!

What can I say, I loved One Step Too Far by Tina Seskis! It’s a great book and I can see it easily being a best selling film too.

I found myself immediately drawn to the writing style and immersed in the different characters.

The book flips between the present day and the past and you know they will eventually converge revealing the full situation behind the dramatic life change taken by our lead character, Emily Coleman.

All of the roles in the story are well defined and I found that I had clear and distinct thoughts about each new person as they were introduced and their back story was drip fed.

Emily/Cat is likeable and so clearly hiding and healing from an ‘event’ which lead to her running away from everything and everyone. I find I usually guess the answers to things like this one very early on in books whereas with ‘One Step Too Far’ I had a few ideas floating around in the my head before the final answer was uncovered.

The tension and suspense really builds up as you read on and I think I read the last 50% of the book in one (heavily coffee fuelled) sitting as I simply had to know what happened next!

This is truly a really engaging book to lose yourself in and I hope you love it as much as I did.

 

Synopsis: Tina Seskis’s stunning debut novel, One Step Too Far, is a gripping and haunting psychological thriller.
An apparently happy marriage. A beautiful son. A lovely home. So what makes Emily Coleman get up one morning and walk right out of her life? How will she survive? And what is the date that looms, threatening to force her to confront her past? No-one has ever guessed her secret. Will you?

If you love The Girl on the Train we promise that you will love One Step Too Far, an absolutely unputdownable story of secrets and heartbreak.

 

A Dark so Deadly by Stuart MacBride

5 stars from me!

I just didn’t want this book to end! As much as I desperately wanted to know who the killer was, I felt like I could have kept on reading about these characters for ever.

Poor DC Callum MacGregor, sometimes life really does rain down on you from a great height doesn’t it but he is such a fantastic character throughout this book, so well defined, and the fact he is essentially just a really decent guy radiates from the pages.

The ‘Misfit Mob’ have all the markings of being more than just a standalone – or maybe they will be the launchpad for a whole new series starring DC Callum MacGregor; I hope so. Mother and her little band of rejects make for a very interesting read.

I also love the parallels between these characters and earlier MacBride genius inventions. The bag of jellybabies is not lost on us.

Really good book, inventive story, interesting new characters and I simply didn’t want to put it down.

 

Synopsis: Gripping standalone thriller from the Sunday Times No. 1 bestselling author of the Logan McRae series.

Welcome to the Misfit Mob…

It’s where Police Scotland dumps the officers it can’t get rid of, but wants to: the outcasts, the troublemakers, the compromised. Officers like DC Callum MacGregor, lumbered with all the boring go-nowhere cases. So when an ancient mummy turns up at the Oldcastle tip, it’s his job to find out which museum it’s been stolen from.

But then Callum uncovers links between his ancient corpse and three missing young men, and life starts to get a lot more interesting. O Division’s Major Investigation Teams already have more cases than they can cope with, so, against everyone’s better judgement, the Misfit Mob are just going to have to manage this one on their own.

No one expects them to succeed, but right now they’re the only thing standing between the killer’s victims and a slow, lingering death. The question is, can they prove everyone wrong before he strikes again?

The Twenty-Three by Linwood Barclay

4 stars from me

I’ve only given The Twenty-Three 4 stars but have now realised I haven’t read book 2 in the Promise Falls Trilogy! Whoops. This will have to be remedied and may will mean that the star count on this book will be adjusted!

I have read Broken Promise but am clearly now going to have to find myself a copy of Far From True. What a schoolboy error.

 

As ever with Linwood Barclay books, this is a fast paced story with many, many different threads to follow. You need to keep your wits about you in order to keep up.

The depth of this story is quite staggering, how on earth the author managed to keep everything intact and true to the earlier emergences of this story is so impressive. Did he have everything pegged out from day 1?

Judging it purely on this book alone, I got muddled with one of the characters and the reasons for his actions, I would have enjoyed more clarity on this which possibly I would have gained from reading book 2. I could kick myself for not reading them in order so I most definitely recommend you avoid my stupidity and read them as intended!

On the whole, this is a big book and yet I flew through it. There are so many characters and yet they are all different quirky and unique with their own back story and definitions – Linwood Barclay truly is the master of thriller writing and building depth to his books.

I just noticed today that my favourite ever Barclay book is being made into a film, I am SO excited. I can’t wait to see it! So if you haven’t yet read Never Saw It Coming, may I suggest you read that next 🙂

 

Synopsis: A dark cloud of suspicion and fear continues to hang over the town of Promise Falls.

A series of bizarre, ominously threatening incidents suggests someone is plotting to take revenge on the town. But who is the perpetrator, and revenge for what? Now the time for threats is over. And the inhabitants are about to discover the truth, with devastating consequences.

Killing Kate by Alex Lake

5 stars from me!

Well, first things first, I am now clearly going to have to go and find myself a copy of After Anna by Alex Lake as Killing Kate was so darn good!

My boys bought me this for mother’s day as they know how much I enjoy a good serial killer thriller!

Killing Kate did not disappoint. I was gripped early on and towards the end I was desperately racing through the pages to see what happened next – this is a really well paced, tension building thriller.

I had a few suspects in mind and therefore wasn’t entirely surprise by who the killer was but he did show his hand much earlier than I was expecting. From that moment on the book is roller coaster!

One teeny tiny gripe and POTENTIAL SPOILER so don’t read on if you don’t want to…. There is no way he would have let her have a phone in her hand. Absolutely no way. But, still a whooping 5 stars from me as it really was an entertaining read and I can’t wait to get my hands on a copy of After Anna!

Oh, and, I totally thought it was written by a woman.

 

Synopsis: A serial killer is stalking your home town.

He has a type: all his victims look the same.

And they all look like you.

Kate returns from a post break-up holiday with her girlfriends to news of a serial killer in her home town – and his victims all look like her.

It could, of course, be a simple coincidence.

Or maybe not.

She becomes convinced she is being watched, followed even. Is she next? And could her mild-mannered ex-boyfriend really be a deranged murderer?

Or is the truth something far more sinister?

Unspeakable by Tony Marturano

Unspeakable4 Stars from me.

Having recently had the pleasure of being part of the ‘reader’s group‘ for upcoming Novel, Psychosis, I knew I had to set about reading the back catalogue of the ever so talented Mr Marturano.

One of the others at the group said to me ‘If you like being scared, you’ll love Unspeakable.’

How could I not read it after that?

I didn’t know what to expect, I’ve taken a slightly odd stance recently of not reading the fly cover or a synopsis before starting a book. I am not yet sure if this is a good idea but it’s what I’m going with for now!

I found Unspeakable to almost be a book of two parts. The beginning was introductory, scene building, drawing me into the lives and minds of the key characters. Characterisation, as I would fully expect, was excellent. Well defined people came to life on pages before me as I read. The descriptive powers of Tony Marturano are really quite excellent – buildings, rooms, people, sensations and feelings are all clear and distinct.

Just when you get comfortable with this world, the tension changes. Stupidly (or maybe not) for me, I read the majority of the second half of the book at night… I know a book or film as got into my mind when I find that I don’t want to switch off the bedroom light and walk 10 feet to bed in darkness!

This is a deliciously dark and malevolent read. If you like a book with twists and surprises, you will like this book. If you like a book to make you feel uneasy, jump when you hear a noise, question whether or not you locked the back door, you will like this book!

Did I like the ending?

 

Because I know, if Tony reads this, he will welcome feedback:

Length – just right!
Characters – vivid and real.
Favourite character – Rupert.
Least favourite character – Elisabeth/Adam.
Favourite place – Heron Heights.
Was I scared – yes.
Buzz words (sadly not in a useful order): Intrigued, interested, scared, safe, envious, uncomfortable, peril, deceit, protection, fear.

Synopsis: “There’s something standing over there, in the shadows, and it’s watching me.”

Kenning Hall was more than a country home, it was a sanctuary away from London, until that day. What happened that day was so horrifying, so devastating, that the place was left to ruin, until now. 

A decade later, thirty-two year old Rupert Harrison, the only surviving heir to the Harrison publishing dynasty, has ordered Kenning Hall restored to its former glory. 

It’s time to go back. 

Now, if you think you’ve heard this story before, think again, for this is just the beginning. 

Something is waiting at Kenning Hall. 
Something vengeful, malevolent, and it will follow them home.

Pretty Girls by Karin Slaughter

Pretty Girls5 Stars from me!

This book is brilliant, clear a weekend, get stocked up with coffee and biscuits and hunker down for a fabulous time, immersed in a skilfully written book.

I used to read Karin Slaughter books all the time (until she killed of a certain character and I feel out of love with the whole franchise), ahem, anyway fortunately for me I got over myself and picked up a copy of Pretty Girls.

The family relationship struggles had a real feel to them, Claire and her perfect life with Paul had a real feel to it. Lydia and her issues, her hard life, her new ‘is he too good to be true?’ beau, all felt real.

My only gripe was with the letters from their dad, they just didn’t bring anything to the party for me – but maybe I’m just not sentimental enough! They certainly didn’t have a negative impact on the story. Actually two gripes, I couldn’t see the point of including the bit about Claire’s explosion on the tennis court either. I get that it helped to show a peak into someone else’s psyche, but, for me, it didn’t fit with Claire.

They are, however, tiny, minuscule little points – the book and the storyline were really good and I found myself late for two appointments on two different days because I just kept on ‘reading to the end of this bit’.

If you are looking for a book that you won’t want to put down then this is it.

Synopsis: Sisters. Strangers. Survivors. 

More than twenty years ago, Claire and Lydia’s teenaged sister Julia vanished without a trace. The two women have not spoken since, and now their lives could not be more different. Claire is the glamorous trophy wife of an Atlanta millionaire. Lydia, a single mother, dates an ex-con and struggles to make ends meet. But neither has recovered from the horror and heartbreak of their shared loss—a devastating wound that’s cruelly ripped open when Claire’s husband is killed.

The disappearance of a teenage girl and the murder of a middle-aged man, almost a quarter-century apart: what could connect them? Forming a wary truce, the surviving sisters look to the past to find the truth, unearthing the secrets that destroyed their family all those years ago . . . and uncovering the possibility of redemption, and revenge, where they least expect it.

Powerful, poignant, and utterly gripping, packed with indelible characters and unforgettable twists, Pretty Girls is a masterful thriller from one of the finest suspense writers working today.

A Deadly Thaw by Sarah Ward

A Deadly Thaw4 stars from me

I was delighted to find that I had won a copy of A Deadly Thaw in a recent competition by Sarah Ward.

Having not (yet) read In Bitter Chill, I read A Deadly Thaw as a standalone thriller.

It is listed as being #2 in the Inspecter Francis Sadler series but for me the star of the show was, without question, DC Connie Childs who is a vibrant, well defined and likeable character.

The same cannot be said, however, for Kat and Lena, both of whom I found myself unable to engage with.

I also had some issues giving clarity to Sadler, Palmer and Llewellyn; I do wonder if that may be the downside of having not read In Bitter Chill.

Throughout the story another issue runs, one of Police errors and misconduct, I liked that this was addressed, it worked well and good a eye opener for me. It is unbearable to imagine a woman reporting a crime and being dismissed. Although awful to think about, it felt very genuine that it should be raised – makes me wonder how real an issue this still is for long serving offices.

All in all, a good book and I will now go back and seek out In Bitter Chill. Most of all – I look forward to reading more with DC Connie Childs.

Synopsis: A man whose killer—his wife—was convicted 15 years ago is discovered freshly murdered in this rivetingly suspenseful mystery from critically acclaimed author Sarah Ward.

Lena Grey is found guilty of murdering her husband, who was found smothered in their bed. She offers no defense, and serves fourteen long years in prison. But within months of her release nearly two decades later, his body is found in a disused morgue, recently killed. Who was the man she killed before, and why did she lie about his identity?

Detective Inspector Francis Sadler and his Derbyshire team try to discover how such a well-orchestrated deception could have occurred. DC Connie Childs is convinced that something greater than marital strife caused the murders, but before Lena can be questioned further, she vanishes. Back in Lena’s childhood home, her sister Kat, a therapist, is shocked by her sister’s duplicity. When she begins to receive mysterious packages from a young man claiming to know her sister’s location, Kat is drawn into her own investigation of her family’s well-hidden secrets. As her inquiries begin to collide with the murder investigation, a link to the sisters’ teenage lives emerges, and the line between victim and perpetrator becomes blurred in this tightly-plotted, compelling novel perfect for fans of Deborah Crombie and Sharon Bolton.

Dead Man’s Prayer by Jackie Baldwin

Dead Man's Prayer4 Stars from me!

I really enjoyed Dead Man’s Prayer by Jackie Baldwin, it is a fab debut. I found DI Frank Farrell to be an intriguing character who really grew on me as the book progressed and by the time it was over I found myself hoping that book 2 will be out soon!

I thought it was an inventive plot, with original ideas and some unexpected twists and turns. It had the obligatory love mix, of course, and a strong lead character with a very troubled past.

After about chapter 8 I found this book hard to put down and look forward to reading more by Jackie Baldwin.

Synopsis: Ex-priest DI Frank Farrell has returned to his roots in Dumfries, only to be landed with a disturbing murder case. Even worse, Farrell knows the victim: Father Boyd, the man who forced him out of the priesthood eighteen years earlier.

With no leads, Farrell must delve into the old priest’s past, one that is inexorably linked with his own. But his attention is diverted when a pair of twin boys go missing. The Dumfries police force recover one in an abandoned church, unharmed. But where is his brother?

As Farrell investigates the two cases, he can’t help but feel targeted. Is someone playing a sinister game, or is he seeing patterns that don’t exist? Either way, it’s a game Farrell needs to win before he loses his grip on his sanity, or someone else turns up dead.

The Passenger by Lisa Lutz

The Passenger5 Stars from me!

I’m going to endeavour to ensure that this review does The Passenger justice as I can see a few reviews online which seem to indicate it isn’t brilliant – but it actually is. Lisa Lutz has created a rollercoaster ride of a read here and frankly I thought it was unputdownable.

There is the slimmest hint of dark humour throughout which maybe some people miss? For me it made the book extra enjoyable. I absolutely loved The Passenger, it was one of those books that I was disappointed to finish because I enjoyed reading it so much.

I thought the storyline was excellent. Simple, clever and fast to read. I liked the main character, mistrusted Blue and fell a little bit in love with Domenic – seriously, what more can you ask for in a book?

This is a perfect ‘weekend to yourself’ or ‘holiday’ read in my opinion because you can just immerse yourself in it and live vicariously through the edgey life of Tanya Dubois.

Loved it. Thank you @Lisa Lutz

Synopsis: In case you were wondering, I didn’t do it. I didn’t have anything to do with Frank’s death. I don’t have an alibi, so you’ll have to take my word for it…

Forty-eight hours after leaving her husband’s body at the base of the stairs, Tanya Dubois cashes in her credit cards, dyes her hair brown, demands a new name from a shadowy voice over the phone, and flees town. It’s not the first time.

She meets Blue, a female bartender who recognizes the hunted look in a fugitive’s eyes and offers her a place to stay. With dwindling choices, Tanya-now-Amelia accepts. An uneasy―and dangerous―alliance is born.

It’s almost impossible to live off the grid today, but Amelia-now-Debra and Blue have the courage, the ingenuity, and the desperation, to try. Hopscotching from city to city, Debra especially is chased by a very dark secret…can she outrun her past?

With heart-stopping escapes and devious deceptions, The Passenger is an amazing psychological thriller about defining yourself while you pursue your path to survival. One thing is certain: the ride will leave you breathless.