A Noise Downstairs by Linwood Barclay

Book Description:

Published: July 24, 2018

Format: Audio/OverDrive

The New York Times bestselling author of No Time for Goodbyereturns with a haunting psychological thriller that blends the twists and turns of Gillian Flynn with the driving suspense of Harlan Coben, in which a man is troubled by odd sounds for which there is no rational explanation.

College professor Paul Davis is a normal guy with a normal life. Until, driving along a deserted road late one night, he surprises a murderer disposing of a couple of bodies. That’s when Paul’s “normal” existence is turned upside down. After nearly losing his own life in that encounter, he finds himself battling PTSD, depression, and severe problems at work. His wife, Charlotte, desperate to cheer him up, brings home a vintage typewriter—complete with ink ribbons and heavy round keys—to encourage him to get started on that novel he’s always intended to write.

However, the typewriter itself is a problem. Paul swears it’s possessed and types by itself at night. But only Paul can hear the noise coming from downstairs; Charlotte doesn’t hear a thing. And she worries he’s going off the rails.

Paul believes the typewriter is somehow connected to the murderer he discovered nearly a year ago. The killer had made his victims type apologies to him before ending their lives. Has another sick twist of fate entwined his life with the killer—could this be the same machine? Increasingly tormented but determined to discover the truth and confront his nightmare, Paul begins investigating the deaths himself.

But that may not be the best thing to do. Maybe Paul should just take the typewriter back to where his wife found it. Maybe he should stop asking questions and simply walk away while he can. . .

Review –

While it was wholly compulsive and difficult to put down, A Noise Downstairs doesn’t become an action driven plot for the first 30-40% of the novel; it takes its time in a slow burning suspense while becoming acquainted with the characters, which is a style of writing I love. You get a lot of the set up from the synopsis, but initially we find our main narrator Paul caught in an unexpected exchange with co-worker Kenneth. Unfortunately, Paul has decided to follow Ken to inform him that he has a tail light out, things escalate, and Ken attempts to murder Paul. We are then thrust forward eight months after the incident, where Ken is in prison, Paul is spending time recovering with the help of his therapist, Anna, and his second wife, Charlotte, and things are tense. Paul thinks it will be cathartic to write about his experiences in hopes of working through his PTSD, so Charlotte surprises him with an old Underwood typewriter she found at a yard sale. The thing is, Paul starts hearing the typewriter in the middle of the night, and what unfolds is a tale of “Is he delusional or is someone out to get him?” in the most suspenseful format.

It’s like reading a Twilight (the television show) episode with a bit of Gaslight (the movie) thrown in and a bonus of several twists.

Great read.

 

She Was the Quiet One by Michele Campbell

Book Description:

Published: 

Format: Audio/OverDrive

From the author of It’s Always the Husband comes a riveting new suspense audiobook about privilege, power, and what happens when we let ambition take control.

For Rose Enright, enrolling in a prestigious New England boarding school is the opportunity of a lifetime. But for Rose’s vulnerable twin sister Bel, Odell Academy is a place of temptation and danger. When Bel falls in with a crowd of wild rich kids who pressure her into hazing Rose, the sisters’ relationship is shattered. Rose turns to her dorm mother, Sarah Donovan, for advice. But Bel turns to Sarah’s husband Heath, a charismatic and ambitious teacher. Is Heath trying to help Bel or take advantage of her? In a world of privilege, seduction, and manipulation, only one sister will live to tell the truth.

In an audiobook full of twists, turns, and dark secrets, Michele Campbell once again proves her skill at crafting intricately spun and completely compelling plots.

Review –

She Was the Quiet One does a great job of slowly luring you into the world of this boarding school. You know right away that a terrible murder has taken place, and you know the victim was one of the twins, but you don’t know which one yet. The story is told in alternating chapters, from the points of view of Rose, Bel, their co-dorm head Sarah Donovan, and police records of interviews after the fact. I have to say early on my loyalty to each sister swapped depending on who was narrating the chapter. It was so easy to feel for Bel in her chapters, and it was likewise easy to do so in Rose’s. Campbell is a masterful writer, and it shows in her ability to make you sympathize with the different characters.

The mystery becomes a little clearer with each chapter, and by the time the murder happens, you realize where it was going and who’s guilty. From there, it’s just a matter of waiting for the characters to put it together.

The only part I didn’t really like was, honestly, the epilogue. I felt like everything had been tidied up nice and neat before that, and then the epilogue left me with questions that I hadn’t had before. In a way, I kind of liked the angle it took, but in another way it felt sort of like a twist tossed in at the last minute. However, I will say that it’s made me curious enough I plan to go back and read the book again. No matter what, I highly recommend this book.

The Disappearance of Emily Marr by Louise Candlish

Book Description:

Published: August 1, 2013

Format: Audio/OverDrive

A stunning story of secrets and scandal, identity and infidelity
 When Tabby Dewhurst arrives heartbroken and penniless on a picturesque, windswept island off the coast of France, her luck appears to change when she overhears a villager repeating aloud the access code to her front door. Hardly believing her own actions, Tabby waits for the woman to leave and then lets herself into the house. And so she enters the strange, hidden world of Emily Marr—or so her new friend introduces herself. Soon, however, Tabby forms suspicions about her new friend, suspicions that lead her back to England, and to revelations that will have explosive consequences for both of them.

Review –

Running from a broken relationship and low on cash, Tabby finds herself in a little village off the Coast of France. While wandering the streets wondering where she can sleep, she overhears an English woman repeating her access code to her apartment. As the woman appears to be heading off somewhere with a large bag, Tabby seizes the opportunity and lets herself in.

Meanwhile, the book splits into two stories, Tabby’s and the apartment owner’s, Emmie.
The two women become unexpected flatmates and unlikely friends. Emmie obviously has a story to tell but it is only through snooping and surfing the internet that Tabby can try to discover what is making her so reclusive and withdrawn.

The girl’s stories are set in both France and England and while there are some similarities in their lives, the reader starts to wonder if it’s a good thing that they met at all?

This is a wonderfully warm novel with a nice easy pace and enough bite to make you want to keep reading. The character of Emily Marr is well described and you genuinely feel like you may know her and why she chooses to disappear. The descriptions of her life before the disappearance are well thought out and give her some depth which I think is needed for the main storyline.

The character, Nina, is hateful. Angry, bitter and hell bent on revenge she doesn’t care who she mows down on the way. Her anger hops off the pages and becomes quite understandable as the story unfolds.

This is a great  read, full of surprises, wonderful writing and would be ideal for bookclub discussions. It also has Reading Group Questions at the end which is a nice bonus. The only fault I would have is the lack of description of the French island. I would have liked to get a bit more of the sense of the place, the smells, the sounds and the atmosphere. Other than that ,a great book with a surprising twist.

This mystery is sad yet intriguing, a definite page turner! This isn’t regular chick lit, it’s on a different level with the mystery angle.

The Sisters by Dervla McTiernan

Book Description:

Published: September 5, 2019

Format: Audio/Audible

Two sisters climbing the ranks of Dublin’s criminal justice system. A murder case that could change their lives forever. The Sisters is a gripping new thriller from one of the most exciting voices in crime fiction.

In this prequel to the international bestseller The Ruin, set 10 years prior, bright-eyed Carrie Ryan is at the very start of her career. When she has a hunch about an ongoing murder investigation, she knows it could be her only chance to prove herself and truly break into the “boy’s club” of Dublin’s police force.

Carrie uncovers this make-or-break moment in a case file her sister Aifric, a newly qualified barrister, leaves on their kitchen counter: Robert Collins has been charged with the murder of his girlfriend after a fight in a local pub, and all signs point towards a guilty verdict. But both sisters quickly begin to find evidence that complicates the story. All the while, Carrie is very aware that she’s crossed the line – if the detective sergeant running the investigation finds out she’s been messing around with his case, her career will be over before it has begun.

Review –

I listened to the Audible (freebie) Original, The Sisters. narrated by Aoife McMahon. It’s a quick listen, only a little over three hours, and very satisfying.

It is a prequel to The Ruin which I read August 19 of this year and reviewed on this blog on September 21st.

Two sisters, who live together, are at the beginning of their careers in Dublin. One sister, Aifric is a new barrister who is assigned a murder case and has no support from her bosses. The other sister, Carrie is trying to make detective in a sexist environment. Both sisters are confronted with impossibilities in their careers. Aifric talks to her sister about her case, and Carrie becomes inquisitive at the questionable evidence.

It’s a character driven short story, with each sister taking a chapter. It’s amazing that one can be totally involved so quickly. The performance by McMahon is perfect. I highly recommend it!

Although it is a prequel to The Ruin, you do not have to read it first before delving into this one.

The Perfect Mother by Aimee Molloy

Book Description:

Published: May 1, 2018

Format: Audio/OverDrive

An addictive psychological thriller about a group of women whose lives become unexpectedly connected when one of their newborns goes missing.

They call themselves the May Mothers—a collection of new moms who gave birth in the same month. Twice a week, with strollers in tow, they get together in Prospect Park, seeking refuge from the isolation of new motherhood; sharing the fears, joys, and anxieties of their new child-centered lives.

When the group’s members agree to meet for drinks at a hip local bar, they have in mind a casual evening of fun, a brief break from their daily routine. But on this sultry Fourth of July night during the hottest summer in Brooklyn’s history, something goes terrifyingly wrong: one of the babies is abducted from his crib. Winnie, a single mom, was reluctant to leave six-week-old Midas with a babysitter, but the May Mothers insisted that everything would be fine. Now Midas is missing, the police are asking disturbing questions, and Winnie’s very private life has become fodder for a ravenous media.

Though none of the other members in the group are close to the reserved Winnie, three of them will go to increasingly risky lengths to help her find her son. And as the police bungle the investigation and the media begin to scrutinize the mothers in the days that follow, damaging secrets are exposed, marriages are tested, and friendships are formed and fractured.

Review –

“In this promising first novel from nonfiction bestseller Molloy (However Long the Night), the May Mothers, a parenting group, gather at a Brooklyn bar for an adults-only Fourth of July celebration. The outing’s organizers—Nell Mackey, Colette Yates, and Francie Givens—are intent on showing harried single mom Winnie Ross a good time, so they arrange for Nell’s nanny, Alma, to watch Winnie’s son, Midas, and delete the baby monitor app from Winnie’s phone. Drinking commences and Winnie wanders off, leaving her phone and house key with Nell, who misplaces them. Shortly thereafter, Alma calls Nell to report that Midas is missing. When the NYPD fails to find him, the media turns its attention to Winnie and the other May Mothers, prompting Nell, Colette, and Francie to launch their own increasingly reckless investigation. The mystery of Midas’s disappearance may be the skeleton on which Molloy’s plot hangs, but it’s her characters’ anxieties that give the story life and substance. Molloy doesn’t fully earn her book’s big twist, but her clever narrative structure heightens tension and creates uncertainty while spotlighting the solitary struggles of motherhood. Agent: Elisabeth Weed, Weed Literary. (May)” Publishers Weekly

Not a favorite of mine, I only gave it three stars because, for me, it dragged.

 

Savaged by Mia Sheridan

Book Description:

Published: May 28, 2019

Format: Audio/Audible

When wilderness guide, Harper Ward, is summoned to the small town sheriff’s office in Helena Springs, Montana, to provide assistance on a case, she is shocked to find that their only suspect in the double murder investigation is a man described as a savage.

But the longer she watches the man known only as Lucas, on the station surveillance camera, the more intrigued she becomes. He certainly looks primitive with his unkempt appearance and animal skin attire, but she also sees intelligence in his eyes, sensitivity in his expression. Who is he? And how is it possible that he’s lived alone in the forest since he was a small child?

As secrets begin to emerge, Harper is thrust into something bigger and more diabolical than she ever could have imagined. And standing right at the center of it all, is Lucas. But is he truly the wild man he appears to be? A cold blooded killer? An innocent victim? Or a perplexing mix of all three?

Harper must find out the answers to these questions because the more time she spends with him, the more she risks losing her heart.

Review –

Savaged is unlike any other Mia Sheridan’s that I have read so far! It is rather a crime/mystery mixed with romance.

The opening scene begins in the night somewhere above a cliff where four little boys will be abruptly thrown into empty air with a question: Will you die today?
These four kids were obviously kidnapped and we’ll learn later that they were part of a sick scheme.

Throughout the story we will follow one of them Jack forced to do unspeakable things to survive, totally alone for years in the Montana’s wilderness.

Why was he thrown into this life? Who is he? Why him? To whatever ends?Round and round these questions circled my mind while my heart broke so many times for that abandoned little boy.

Go back to present time on a crime scene.
The small town of Helena Springs has seen two murders by arrow in a few days and the person of interest is Lucas. A man looking like a caveman who happened to be close to the last crime scene.
Mark Gallagher freshly arrived from California is tasked with elucidating the crime. He’ll enroll Harper a local nature guide.

When Harper meets Lucas their connection is immediate. She just has to know that savage man who seems connected to her parents death years ago.

All these plot lines entertwine going from past to present and back again to form an intriguing story with the horror of what happened to these kids as a constant background.

This is a story of survival and resilience.
This is a story of madness and evil.
This is a story of new beginnings and hope.
This is a story of love and meeting your soul mate. That perfect someone who will love you whole animal and man alike.

Five stars !

 

Chosen to Die (To Die #2) by Lisa Jackson

Book Description:

Published: August 1, 20

Format: Audio/Audible

HE’LL CHOOSE THEM…
Detective Regan Pescoli has worked the “Star Crossed Killer” case for months, never imagining she’d be captured by the madman she’s been hunting. Regan knows exactly what he’s capable of – and avoiding the same fate will take every drop of her courage and cunning.

ABDUCT THEM…
Regan Pescoli is unlike any woman Nate Santana has met before. But now she’s missing, and Nate knows something is dangerously wrong. The only person who can help him find her is Detective Selena Alvarez, Regan’s partner. As Nate and Selena dig deeper into the Star-Crossed Killer case and the body count rises, the truth about Regan’s disappearance becomes chillingly clear.

AND KILL THEM…
In the desolate Montana woods, evil is lurking. And with time running out, the only way to save Regan will be to get inside a killer’s twisted mind and unravel a shocking message that is being revealed, one body at a time…

Review –

Chosen To Die is a thrilling mystery with the isolated setting adding to the suspense generated by the plot. The reason for the killer taking Regan also contributes to the puzzle: his previous victims had been trusting, relatively helpless women. Why choose Regan, a detective who would almost certainly fight back with everything she had? The only serious flaw in the book is with its length; Regan and Selena are compelling, well drawn characters that are interesting to follow. But there are other characters and side stories that add little to the plot and ultimately detract from the suspense of the detectives’ investigation. It would seem these could easily have been edited out, allowing for better continuity and tighter pacing, but that’s OMO.

I loved this book and will soon start the third in the series.

 

Left to Die (To Die #1) by Lisa Jackson

Book Description:

Published: August 1, 2008

Format: Audio/Audible

Nothing’s More Terrifying. . .

One by one, the victims are carefully captured, toyed with, then subjected to a slow and agonizing death. Piece by piece, his exquisite plan takes shape. The police can’t yet see the beauty in his work–but soon, very soon, they will. . .

Than Being Left Alone. . .

In the lonely woods around Grizzly Point, Montana, four bodies have been discovered. Detectives Selena Alvarez and Regan Pescoli have been hoping for a career-making case, but this is a nightmare. Even with the FBI involved, Selena and Regan have nothing to go on but a killer’s cryptic notes, and the unsettling knowledge that there is much worse to come. . .

To Die. . .

When Jillian Rivers opens her eyes, she’s trapped in a mangled car. Then a stranger, claiming to be a trail guide named Zane McGregor, pries her free. Though she’s grateful, something about him sets Jillian on edge. And if she knew what lay out there in the woods of Montana, she’d be truly terrified. Because someone is waiting… watching… poised to strike and make Jillian the next victim…

Review –

This is my first read/listen from Lisa Jackson and I think I have have another crime fiction series to add to my list of favorites.

I love how the main characters Alvarez and Pescoli (police detectives in a small Montana town) have been developed and a personal storyline associated with each one. As a reader, I like to learn about the characters and what else is going on in their lives with the exception of the case at hand. Regan Pescoli  has teenagers she is trying to deal with, as well as an ex-husband, who is a jerk. The relationship between Regan and Selena is interesting as it develops because they are nothing alike. Regan is divorced, a comfort food eater, a smoker, and has a habit of falling for “bad boys”. Selena is still single at age thirty – three, is hiding a secret from her past, doesn’t date, is a  workaholic, and a health nut.

In this, the first book in the series, the author has created an amazingly creepy predator.Not only is he creepy, he is very smart. He just wants to be recognized for his handiwork and is very upset with there is a copy cat. The book does not detail in too much graphic detail the torture of the victims, but just enough to provide the information needed for the story.

Besides the story of the “Star Crossed Killer” there is a second sub-story dealing with Jillian and Zane. I loved the chemistry between these two and how far Zane would go to help Jillian to find out who was trying to kill her.

I loved the different viewpoints; from the story at the cabin, to the story at each drop spot, this book is very intriguing and gripping, but does end on a cliff-hanger, and that is why I’m starting the next book right away.

Great read for fans of crime fiction.

 

Redemption Point (Crimson Lake #2) by Candice Fox

Book Description:

Published: January 29, 2018 (in Australia)

Format: Audio/Audible

When former police detective Ted Conkaffey was wrongly accused of abducting Claire Bingley, he hoped the Queensland rainforest town of Crimson Lake would be a good place to disappear. But nowhere is safe from Claire’s devastated father.

Dale Bingley has a brutal revenge plan all worked out – and if Ted doesn’t help find the real abductor, he’ll be its first casualty.

Meanwhile, in a dark roadside hovel called the Barking Frog Inn, the bodies of two young bartenders lie on the beer-sodden floor. It’s Detective Inspector Pip Sweeney’s first homicide investigation – complicated by the arrival of private detective Amanda Pharrell to ‘assist’ on the case. Amanda’s conviction for murder a decade ago has left her with some odd behavioural traits, top-to-toe tatts – and a keen eye for killers . . .

For Ted and Amanda, the hunt for the truth will draw them into a violent dance with evil. Redemption is certainly on the cards – but it may well cost them their lives . . .

Review –

Redemption Point is the second book set in the fictional far north Queensland community of Crimson Lake. And again Fox not only offers up some amazing characters, but also firmly plants readers in the humid dense rainforest and the murky crocodile-infested waters of my home-state’s isolated and often unwelcoming far north.

The first book in this series introduced us to Ted and Amanda. We learn of the accusations against Ted and his escape from Sydney. We also meet Amanda and though they pair up to solve a recent crime, Ted can’t but help dig into the past Amanda would prefer to stay buried. She doesn’t hide the fact she’s served 10 years in prison for murder, but the questions surrounding her crime interest Ted and it becomes one of two mysteries solved in that first outing.

That book ended just as Amanda uncovers new information about the rape of a thirteen year old – the crime of which Ted’s accused. And as this book opens we learn he’s done nothing with that information, and nothing to support an online community who believe in his innocence.

There are a couple of additional voices in this book. One we’ve met before, a former uniformed officer promoted to Crimson Lake, DI Pip Sweeney, who’s captivated by Amanda and her ways; and then there’s Kevin, whose diary extracts we read and whose role soon becomes clear.

Again the author offers two mysteries for the price of one as we delve into the charges against Ted, as well as the murders in Crimson Lake.

There are a few red herrings and local secrets thrown into the mix however and the author again does a great job of recreating the far north, nailing the idiosyncrasies of some of the small and unusual  communities you find there. So, although I wasn’t really drawn into that mystery, a sense of foreboding surrounding the investigation remained.

And then there’s Ted’s case which is the more interesting of the two and I guess we get into the psychology of the crime (of which he’s accused) a little more than the double-murder. And this time around we meet some of the players from his former life and wonder if he will (one day) return to it.

Ted’s again a bundle of surprises. In some ways it’s almost as if he’s given up on life; but then there’s a smidge of rebellion as he fights his way out of his fugue and self-imposed isolation.

As for Amanda – she seems even more outrageous (and endearing) in this outing. Having said that she’d be bloody hard work to be around.  She is tough as nails in this installment and takes beating after beating and keeps on ticking.

She and Ted have settled into a bit of a pattern now and their relationship is an interesting one.

In this book Ted’s story in done but I’m sure the author will show us (the readers) that Queensland is a hot bed of crime and corruption and I’m anxious to see where she takes the series.

Five stars!

 

 

 

Crimson Lake (Crimson Lake #1) by Candice Fox

Book Description:

Published: March 6, 2018

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Crimson Lake, by Sydney-based, Ned Kelly Award-winning author Candice Fox, is a thrilling contemporary crime novel set in Queensland, Australia, perfect for readers of authors like James Patterson, Harlan Coben, Lisa Gardner, and Tana French.

How do you move on when the world won’t let you?

12:46: Claire Bingley stands alone at a bus stop
12:47: Ted Conkaffey parks his car beside her
12:52: The girl is missing . . .

Six minutes in the wrong place at the wrong time—that’s all it took to ruin Sydney detective Ted Conkaffey’s life. Accused but not convicted of a brutal abduction,Ted is now a free man—and public enemy number one. Maintaining his innocence, he flees north to keep a low profile amidst the steamy, croc-infested wetlands of Crimson Lake.

There, Ted’s lawyer introduces him to eccentric private investigator Amanda Pharrell, herself a convicted murderer. Not entirely convinced Amanda is a cold-blooded killer, Ted agrees to help with her investigation, a case full of deception and obsession, while secretly digging into her troubled past. The residents of Crimson Lake are watching the pair’s every move… and the town offers no place to hide.

Review –

In Crimson Lake by Candice Fox, (an author wh is new to me)readers are introduced to Detective Ted Conkaffey. After a particularly tough and testing time in which Ted is accused of the abduction of a young girl, he is hiding away in the sweltering heat of Crimson Lake where he is hoping to keep out of the radar in order to start afresh.

He is adamant he didn’t do it. Convinced, even. But with everything and everyone standing against him, it seems the label of abductor just can’t be scrubbed off. Still, in his new surroundings, no one knows he is the man accused of the crime, and he’s seriously hoping that it remains that way.

Visited by his lawyer, Sean, one day, Ted is made aware of a woman in town, Amanda Pharrell, who Sean thinks will help Ted out in some way. At first, after imagining that what Sean had set him up for was something romantic, Ted realises that what Sean has actually done is sent him to Amanda in order to put his detective skills to good use unofficially.

The two team up to try and find out what happened to the author of a wildly popular book series which juxtaposed religion and young adult drama. It turns out the author had some secrets of his own, and there appears to be more than a few people who wished him harm.

As Amanda and Ted work their case, Ted isn’t entirely sure whether Amanda was guilty of the crime she was punished for, and he can’t stop himself from looking into it. Meanwhile, he continues to be taunted by those who believe he shouldn’t be free, and those who don’t like the idea of the two criminals joining forces—and some mean to do him, and perhaps Amanda, grave harm if they don’t heed their warnings.

Both characters were incredibly intriguing in this instance, both with a rocky past behind them that only strengthened their beliefs and motives even more. I adored getting to know both of them, thoroughly enjoying figuring them out as they approached a missing persons case that would put their acquired skills to the test. They were strong alone, but when standing together, Ted and Amanda were truly a force to be reckoned with.

This is one of those books that hooks you at page one and doesn’t let you go. It’s taut, tense, and it packs quite a one-two punch of action and suspense. Ted and Amanda are both fascinating characters—you really don’t quite know what to believe about either of them. Fox is a great storyteller, and she really makes you feel you’re right there in the croc-infested wetlands with her characters, hearing the sounds of nature and watching your surroundings.

I had never read anything Fox has written before, but I was really impressed, and I love the she added the geese into the story. (you’ll have to read the book to find out the part they play) I’m excited there are more books in the series, because I’m definitely hooked. There may be an unending supply of thrillers and mysteries out there these days, but Crimson Lake is one you should add to your list.