The Roommate(Cormac Reilly #0.7) by Dervla McTiernan

Book Description:

Published: October 2019

Format: Audio/Audible

Stars: 4

This audio novella is a stand-alone prequel to the Cormac Reilly series

Twenty-two year old Niamh Turley thought she had problems, dealing with the obnoxious principal of the school she’s teaching in as well as the anxious parents of her little charges, but when she wakes one morning to a missing roommate and a garda knocking on her door, her life spirals out of control fast…

Review –

Garda Cormac Reilly is still in the early stages of his career when this story takes place.

A young woman has been found murdered in the lobby of a Black Rock apartment building early one morning just before Christmas, and primary school teacher Niamh Turley opens the door to Garda Reilly during the very initial investigation. She’d been fast asleep so there was little she could tell him. Unsettled but safe, she burrows in for a quiet day at home while the investigation unfolds. Later in the day, when she finds Garda Reilly at her door once again, she realises the crime is much closer to home than she’d thought – the young woman who lost her life was Niamh’s roommate, Maya.

The two women had been friendly but not really close, so although Niamh is horrified by the crime and sad for Maya’s family, she also has some pressing practical matters to consider – like how she’s going to pay the rent on her own. A potential solution presents itself, and then Niamh’s own life begins to spiral out of control.

While this story is part of the series due to the presence of Cormac Reilly, it really has no connection to either of the full-length novels published to date, so it probably doesn’t matter in what order it is read. But do read it! McTiernan really knows how to build the tension, even in this shorter form. I could feel myself getting agitated as Niamh’s poor choices led her into a difficult position.

It is short but it packs a punch and gets quite tense at times! I wanted to tell Niamh not to be an ‘eejit’ several times but she was anyway. The narrator is Irish which is nice because the accent is real, and she has a very pleasing voice.

 I highly recommend this short book to everyone and it is a reminder to ask for references before letting a stranger move in with you!

 

The Shuddering by Ania Ahlborn

Book Description:

Published: June 18, 2013

Format: Audio/Scribd

Stars: 4

Ryan Adler and his twin sister, Jane, spent their happiest childhood days at their parents’ mountain Colorado cabin — until divorce tore their family apart. Now, with the house about to be sold, the Adler twins gather with their closest friends for one last snowboarding-filled holiday. While commitment-phobic Ryan gazes longingly at Lauren, wondering if his playboy days are over, Jane’s hopes of reconciling with her old boyfriend evaporate when he brings along his new fiancée. As drama builds among the friends, something lurks in the forest, watching the cabin, growing ever bolder as the snow falls — and hunger rises. After a blizzard leaves the group stranded, the true test of their love and loyalty begins as the hideous creatures outside close in, one bloody attack at a time. Now Ryan, Jane, and their friends must fight — tooth and nail, bullet and blade — for their lives. Or else surrender to unspeakable deaths in the darkened woods.

Review –

This book could be described as an old-school creature feature in novel form. When a host of sarcastic twenty-somethings stage a reunion at a secluded winter cabin, a devastating blizzard traps them indoors, forcing them to circle the wagons against an onslaught of attacks from ashen, long-limbed monsters that legend has it only come out when it snows.

The creatures are introduced in a riveting prologue, but once the author  establishes her mundane characters, winter woods setting, the plot devolves into a slow plod toward a final confrontation. We know the monsters are there, we know our heroes will be forced to fight them, but Ahlborn insists on saving the good stuff until the finale.

Essentially, there are no twists or turns just very predictable actions by the cabin dwellers. For the first half of The Shuddering, tension and suspense are clearly lacking. Though a peripheral character does become the first to “bite the dust” (or should I say snow).

But then, suddenly, things start getting good. Once the characters are fully aware of their plight and begin to mount a defense, The Shuddering magically transforms from rich boy melodrama into a stark, unsettling tale of snowbound survival. Things get dirty, things get nasty, and when the author  finally forces her twenty-somethings to knuckle up, the book really delivers. It’s a few chapters  of good old-fashioned monster magic tacked onto the back end of some super predictable happenings.

The ending is right out of Twilight Zone or a Stephen King novel and you can see it coming a mile away. Is the book good? I gave it four stars just because I love a good spooky story and I don’t care how predictable it was! 

I wish I had waited and read it in the winter instead of a hundred degree Spring day.

 

 

Here to Stay by Mark Edwards

Book Description:

Published: September 1, 2019

Format: Audio/Scribd

Stars: 4

A beautiful home. A loving wife. And in-laws to die for.

Gemma Robinson comes into Elliot’s life like a whirlwind, and they marry and settle into his home. When she asks him if her parents can come to stay for a couple of weeks, he is keen to oblige – he just doesn’t quite know what he’s signing up for.

The Robinsons arrive with Gemma’s sister, Chloe, a mysterious young woman who refuses to speak or leave her room. Elliot starts to suspect that the Robinsons are hiding a dark secret. And then there are the scars on his wife’s body that she won’t talk about . . .

As Elliot’s in-laws become more comfortable in his home, encroaching on all aspects of his life, it becomes clear that they have no intention of moving out. To protect Gemma, and their marriage, Elliot delves into the Robinsons’ past. But is he prepared for the truth?

Review –

Author Mark Edwards describes his psychological thrillers as stories “in which scary things happen to ordinary people”. No kidding! I actually had nightmares about this book and felt so stressed throughout that it gave me a tension headache. I’m serious. I had to turn off my listening device, take a decompressing break by listening to a lighter/no angst book and ONLY then go back and finish it.

After a whirlwind romance followed closely by marriage to the gorgeous Gemma, science teacher Elliot feels like his life is complete. He has everything he can ever want: a loving partner, a beautiful home, a job he loves and an adored cat who is like a child to him. That’s until his in-laws come to stay for two weeks – and never move out. Which in itself is terrifying, except that you have no idea how bad it can get, because these are not your average family but a bunch of utter psychopaths! Sweet Elliot, whose own parents are long dead, has no chance against the destructive force that is about to be unleashed on his life.

 There are crazy twists at every turn, some so hair-raising that if this was a scary movie I would have to turn the volume on low and peek through my fingers. No such luck here, though. The story slowly unrolled in all its horrifying glory, and I felt like I had knives thrown at my heart. 

As I am sitting here writing this review, I still feel the remnants of tension in my gut, the sort that only a strong White Russian and a night off the thrillers can fix. 

if you suffer from high blood pressure, anxiety or poor impulse control (i.e. book throwing), do not enter into this without consulting your doctor first. Also, this book is like reading about a plane crash before embarking on a long-haul flight, so if your in-laws’ visit is imminent, I recommend skipping it for now. Who am I kidding? This book is pure hell!!!!! Enter at your own risk! And don’t say I didn’t warn you ….

Second Skin by Christian White

Book Description:

Published: April 2, 2020

Format: Audio/Audible

Stars: 4

Listening Length: 4 hours and 28 minutes

Stan Weir is mourning a tragic loss when he meets a mysterious nine-year-old girl, who claims to be the reincarnated spirit of his late wife. Marcy Keef is a single mother trying to make ends meet, when her daughter Erin starts describing “past life memories.” Neither wants to believe Erin, but as violent secrets are revealed, the truth becomes harder to deny.

With echoes of Stephen King, Second Skin is a propulsive thriller about grief, guilt, and truths better left unknown.

Review –

This book is one released only on Audible and free for members in April 2020. Audible usually provides 5-7 free books at the first of every month and in April I chose four. In May, I didn’t;t choose any-none of them were “my cup of tea”, but I love that they do that for their members.

At four and a half hours of audio it is not a long book, but I thought the author packed quite a lot of story, characterizations and twists in that short period. It was an easy listen and I did not see the ending coming until a large twist was revealed.

Second Skin was a good mystery with a paranormal angle to it and some unexpected twists along the way. Can’t reveal too much as it would be a spoiler. The narration by Ellen Archer in all voices was especially outstanding.

The cover image seemed to have absolutely nothing to do with the plot, unless I blinked and missed it. I hate this! I wish I had the job of choosing book covers, but a girl can only dream!

If this book comes out later this year in print or e-book form you should really give it a try. You will not be disappointed .

Loved it!

A Thin Dark Line (Broussard and Fourcade #1,Doucet #4)) by Tami Hoag

Book Description:

Published:  April 1, 1998

Format: Audio/Scribd

Stars: 5

Terror stalks the streets of Bayou Breaux, Louisiana. A suspected murderer is free on a technicality, and the cop accused of planting evidence against him is ordered off the case. But Detective Nick Fourcade refuses to walk away. He’s stepped over the line before. This case threatens to push him over the edge.

He’s not the only one. Deputy Annie Broussard found the woman’s mutilated body. She still hears the phantom echoes of dying screams. She wants justice. But pursuing the investigation will mean forming an alliance with a man she doesn’t trust and making enemies of the men she works with. It will mean being drawn into the confidence of a killer. For Annie Broussard, finding justice will mean risking everything—including her life.

The search for the truth has begun—one that will lead down a twisted trail through the steamy bayous of Louisiana, and deep into the darkest reaches of the human heart.

Review –

This is a psychosexual thriller about tough Cajun loners looking for love in unlikely places.

Heroine Annie Broussard is a deputy with the sheriff’s office in Partout Parish in southern Louisiana. An orphan who’s working hard to make detective, she’s also devoted to getting rid of the sexual predators who victimize women. But just as her career seems to be looking up, Annie breaks an unwritten police law: She arrests a fellow officer, Nick Fourcade, when she finds him beating up a murder suspect. Annie should have let Fourcade kill him, say both her colleagues and the bayou parish citizens. After all, the suspect, Marcus Renard, had supposedly stalked Pam Bichon, a single mother. He’d driven stakes through her hands, raped her, killed her, eviscerated her, then left her wearing only a feathered Mardi Gras mask in a deserted cottage on Pony Bayou. Why not kill him? Switching his obsession from Pam to Annie, he maintains that he’s innocent and begs Annie to help him. Working with Fourcade, who’s suspended but still obsessed with the case, she seeks evidence to put the troubled Marcus legally behind bars. Meanwhile, someone’s raping Louisiana women, and Marcus is too injured to be the perp. Is it Annie’s lazy, mean-spirited colleague Stokes? Or Pam’s husband, involved with a New Orleans racketeer from Fourcade’s past? As Mardi Gras approaches, Annie, a cute kid who does fifty chin-ups a day and has an addiction to candy bars, wrestles with Fourcade’s dangerous sexualityfortunately a losing battle—and with the evil presence of deranged male predators who aren’t who they seem.

I read the second book first and it did not dampen my enjoyment of this one, but rather, gave me a better understanding go the characters. I don’t understand why this author has not written any more books in this series. Maybe she will surprise me one day.

 

 

 

 

The Whisper Man by Alex North

Book Description:

Published: August 20, 2019

Format: Audio/Scribd

Stars: 4

In this dark, suspenseful thriller, Alex North weaves a multi-generational tale of a father and son caught in the crosshairs of an investigation to catch a serial killer preying on a small town.

After the sudden death of his wife, Tom Kennedy believes a fresh start will help him and his young son Jake heal. A new beginning, a new house, a new town. Featherbank.

But the town has a dark past. Twenty years ago, a serial killer abducted and murdered five residents. Until Frank Carter was finally caught, he was nicknamed “The Whisper Man,” for he would lure his victims out by whispering at their windows at night.

Just as Tom and Jake settle into their new home, a young boy vanishes. His disappearance bears an unnerving resemblance to Frank Carter’s crimes, reigniting old rumors that he preyed with an accomplice. Now, detectives Amanda Beck and Pete Willis must find the boy before it is too late, even if that means Pete has to revisit his great foe in prison: The Whisper Man.

And then Jake begins acting strangely. He hears a whispering at his window…

Review –

The Whisper Man managed to be creepy, suspenseful, chilling, and stressful all at the same time, while keeping me guessing. (Something I’ve noticed with thrillers is that the narrators are generally unreliable, and then there are—usually—pretty predictable twists.) However, the main narrator of The Whisper Man, Tom (the father), is fairly reliable, and he’s just trying to do his best raising his son as a now-single, widowed father. It’s a credit to the author that I was suspicious of basically every character, and I still ended up incorrectly guessing the perpetrator.

The biggest theme of this book is father-son relationships, and I found it touching how North wrote about Tom’s son, Jake, who doesn’t quite fit in with his classmates, but also doesn’t seem to want to conform. Tom doesn’t want him to struggle socially, but also, as a credit to his late wife, wants his son to be himself. Ultimately, Tom’s unconditional love for his son is what brings the book to its satisfying conclusion.

Suffice it to say that this book is well worth your time if you don’t mind being slightly creeped out. Some thrillers can be a bit frustrating because the main characters often make dumb decisions, to their own detriment, but I found Tom’s motivations very believable.

Great read and I love the cover!

The Last Mrs. Parrish by Liv Constantine

Book Description:

Published: October 17, 2017

Format: Audio/Scribd

Stars: 5

Amber Patterson is fed up. She’s tired of being a nobody: a plain, invisible woman who blends into the background. She deserves more—a life of money and power like the one blond-haired, blue-eyed goddess Daphne Parrish takes for granted.

To everyone in the exclusive town of Bishops Harbor, Connecticut, Daphne—a socialite and philanthropist—and her real-estate mogul husband, Jackson, are a couple straight out of a fairy tale.

Amber’s envy could eat her alive . . . if she didn’t have a plan. Amber uses Daphne’s compassion and caring to insinuate herself into the family’s life—the first step in a meticulous scheme to undermine her. Before long, Amber is Daphne’s closest confidante, traveling to Europe with the Parrishes and their lovely young daughters, and growing closer to Jackson. But a skeleton from her past may undermine everything that Amber has worked towards, and if it is discovered, her well-laid plan may fall to pieces.

With shocking turns and dark secrets that will keep you guessing until the very end, The Last Mrs. Parrish is a fresh, juicy, and utterly addictive thriller from a diabolically imaginative talent.

Review –

One day at the gym, Amber Patterson drops the magazine she’s reading between her exercise bike and that of the woman who happens to be beside her, Daphne Parrish. As she bends to pick it up, Daphne notices that it’s the publication of a cystic fibrosis foundation. What a coincidence—Daphne’s sister died of cystic fibrosis, and, why, so did Amber’s! “Slowing her pace, Amber wiped her eyes with the back of her hand. It took a lot of acting skills to cry about a sister who never existed.” Step one complete. “All she needed from Daphne was everything.” Everything, in this case, consists of Daphne’s outlandishly wealthy and blisteringly hot husband, Jackson, and all the real estate that comes with him; Daphne can definitely keep her two whiny brats. Amber hates children. But once she finds out that Daphne’s failure to give Jackson a male heir is the main source of tension in the marriage, she sees exactly how to make this work. Amber’s constant, spiteful inner monologue as she plays up to Daphne is the best thing about this book. For example, as Daphne talks about the many miseries her sister Julie went through before her death, Amber is thinking, “At least Julie had grown up in a nice house with money and parents who cared about her. Okay, she was sick and then she died. So what? A lot of people were sick. A lot of people died.…How about Amber and what she’d gone through?” Meanwhile, poor, stupid Daphne is so caught up in the joy of finally having a friend, she seems to be handing Jackson to her on a platter. 

The reader watches with shock and delight as Amber cold-bloodedly manipulates Daphne and Jackson and lays waste to anyone else who stands in her way. Then, about halfway through, the point of view switches from Amber’s to Daphne’s, and we get a surprisingly different take on the story. To say any more would spoil all the twists that Constantine (the pseudonym of sisters Lynne and Valerie Constantine) has in store along the way to a surprising and entirely satisfying ending.

Fantastic read!

Lying In Wait by Liz Nugent

Book Description:

Published: June 12, 2018

Format: Audio/Scribd

Stars: 3

From the international bestselling author of Unraveling Oliver, an “unputdownable psychological thriller with an ending that lingers long after turning the final page” (The Irish Times) about a Dublin family whose dark secrets and twisted relationships are suddenly revealed.

My husband did not mean to kill Annie Doyle, but the lying tramp deserved it.

On the surface, Lydia Fitzsimons has the perfect life—wife of a respected, successful judge, mother to a beloved son, mistress of a beautiful house in Dublin. That beautiful house, however, holds a secret. And when Lydia’s son, Laurence, discovers its secret, wheels are set in motion that lead to an increasingly claustrophobic and devastatingly dark climax.

For fans of Ruth Ware and Gillian Flynn, this novel is a “seductively sinister story. The twists come together in a superbly scary denouncement, which delivers a final sting in the tail. Brilliantly macabre”

Review –

“Laurence Fitzsimons has a mother who’s determined to control everything, and everyone, around her—even if she has to kill to do it.

When 22-year-old Annie Doyle is murdered, it’s ugly and sudden. Her life ends in 1980 on a Dublin beach at the hands of Lydia and Andrew Fitzsimons, for reasons not immediately made clear. Lydia doesn’t feel at all bad about the deed: “I like to think I did the girl a kindness, like putting an injured bird out of its misery. She did not deserve such kindness.” Lydia is disillusioned with Andrew after more than 21 years of marriage, and although they live in a lovely estate called Avalon, they are nearly penniless because of Andrew’s bad investments. All Lydia really cares about is her 17-year-old son, Laurence, whose every move she attempts to control. Laurence is overweight and bullied at school, but he’s also observant and not at all stupid. His parents are acting squirrelly, and he soon suspects one or both of them had a hand in Annie’s death. Meanwhile, Annie’s sister, Karen, is convinced something bad has happened to Annie, who has always been troubled: At 16 she became pregnant, was sent to a home for unwed mothers, and was forced to give up her baby girl, Marnie. It left her forever changed. Karen begins investigating on her own, eventually becoming intimately tied to the Fitzsimons. Like Unraveling Oliver (2017), this is a whydunit, not a whodunit, and the real meat lies in Nugent’s exploration of motherhood, mental illness, and what could drive a person to murder, told through first-person accounts from Lydia, Karen, and Laurence. Lydia is a Gothic villain for the ages, and Annie is sympathetically drawn; a letter she wrote to Marnie, riddled with misspellings, is heartbreaking. Society failed Annie, and her victimization never ended, even after her death.

A page-turner chock full of lies and betrayals and a very creepy mother-son relationship.” Kirkus Review
This book was a bit of a let down for me.

The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware

Book Description:

Published: August 6, 2019

Format: Audio/Scribd

Stars: 5

When she stumbles across the ad, she’s looking for something else completely. But it seems like too good an opportunity to miss—a live-in nannying post, with a staggeringly generous salary. And when Rowan Caine arrives at Heatherbrae House, she is smitten—by the luxurious “smart” home fitted out with all modern conveniences, by the beautiful Scottish Highlands, and by this picture-perfect family.

What she doesn’t know is that she’s stepping into a nightmare—one that will end with a child dead and herself in prison awaiting trial for murder.

Writing to her lawyer from prison, she struggles to explain the unravelling events that led to her incarceration. It wasn’t just the constant surveillance from the cameras installed around the house, or the malfunctioning technology that woke the household with booming music, or turned the lights off at the worst possible time. It wasn’t just the girls, who turned out to be a far cry from the immaculately behaved model children she met at her interview. It wasn’t even the way she was left alone for weeks at a time, with no adults around apart from the enigmatic handyman, Jack Grant.

It was everything.

She knows she’s made mistakes. She admits that she lied to obtain the post, and that her behavior toward the children wasn’t always ideal. She’s not innocent, by any means. But, she maintains, she’s not guilty—at least not of murder. Which means someone else is.

Full of spellbinding menace and told in Ruth Ware’s signature suspenseful style, The Turn of the Key is an unputdownable thriller from the Agatha Christie of our time.

Review –

This book is equal parts old-school gothic suspense and modern psychological thriller,The Turn of the Key seamlessly blends an homage to Henry James’ The Turn of the Screw with a page-turning story of surveillance, paranoia, and domestic drama.

It follows  a young woman who accepts position as a nanny at a state-of-the-art smart house in the Scottish Highlands, only to wind up imprisoned for the death of one of the children in her care, this book is one of the most binge-worthy, genuinely addictive suspense novels you will read during this quarantine event.

From the outset, readers know that things won’t end well for Rowan (the nanny)… in fact, they will end so badly that Rowan will ultimately find herself in a jail cell, awaiting trial for the death of a child under her care. But how did things go from so idyllic to so disastrous?

It takes a special story to hold a reader’s attention when the outcome is known from the outset, and that’s exactly the kind of story Ruth Ware crafts in The Turn of the Key. Readers will be spellbound  by Rowan’s experience settling in to her new life at Heatherbrae House; the beauty of the Highlands, the apparent generosity of Rowan’s new employers, the incredible amenities found within Rowan’s new home–the author paints a picture of a true dream scenario for her protagonist. But as time goes by, tensions and suspicion begins to build. The children in Rowan’s care prove to be more difficult than anticipated, and her new employers leave home for weeks on end, leaving Rowan to fend for herself. As bizarre and inexplicable occurrences begin to take place in the home, Rowan launches an informal investigation into the home’s history–and what she learns will hint at a sinister past and potential evil lurking in the home to this day. And that technology that made the home so appealing? It means that Rowan’s every move is being monitored, or is it?

As previously stated, readers know that Rowan has been arrested in conjunction with the tragic death of a child under her care. The Turn of the Key then, finds Rowan telling her side of the story – what really happened, and who she believes is actually responsible for this tragedy. You know those crime novels that you end up loving the most when you go into them knowing very little about the story’s plot? This book  is one of them. The less you know here, the better – just sit back and let the authors’ brilliant plotting sweep you up in a story of a building’s dark history and its modern-day consequences. There are so many twists and turns, and when the ending comes your mouth can’t help but fall open!!!!!

Fantastic read!

When She Returned by Lucinda Berry

Book Description:

Published: October 15, 2019

Format: Audio/Audible

Stars: 5

One woman’s reappearance throws her family into turmoil, exposing dark secrets and the hidden, often devastating truth of family relationships.

Kate Bennett vanished from a parking lot eleven years ago, leaving behind her husband and young daughter. When she shows up at a Montana gas station, clutching an infant and screaming for help, investigators believe she may have been abducted by a cult.

Kate’s return flips her family’s world upside down–her husband is remarried, and her daughter barely remembers her. Kate herself doesn’t look or act like she did before.

While the family tries to help Kate reintegrate into society, they discover truths they’ve been hiding from each other about their own relationships. But they aren’t the only ones with secrets. As the family unravels what happened to Kate, a series of shocking revelations shows that Kate’s return is more sinister than any of them could have imagined.

Review –

Dark and disturbing…

When Kate Bennett vanished from a Target parking lot, her husband and daughter never thought they would see her again. But eleven years later, Kate shows up dehydrated and malnourished, showing signs of severe abuse in Montana holding a baby. With Kate returning, her family’s lives are turned upside down. As they struggle to understand what happened with Kate during those years, shocking revelations come to surface and threaten to destroy their lives. The narrative shifts between past and present and is told from the perspectives of Kate(first wife), Meredith(new wife), and Abbi, (daughter). Kate’s story is chilling and full of dread as she recounts the shocking cruelty from her days/years in “captivity”. The author’s exploration of Kate’s complete entrapment in the cult community is both compelling and disturbing. The pace gets hampered in the middle from the monotony of Kate’s story, but Berry threw in another twist that invests readers’ interest until the shocking culmination and what an ending it is!!!

I listened to this while traveling from Oklahoma to Alabama last month and kept my mind off the HUGE semi-trucks that traverse I-40.

Five star read!