Lock Every Door by Riley Sager

Book Description:

Published: July 2, 2019

Format: Audio/OverDrive

No visitors. No nights spent away from the apartment. No disturbing the other residents, all of whom are rich or famous or both. These are the only rules for Jules Larsen’s new job as an apartment sitter at the Bartholomew, one of Manhattan’s most high-profile and mysterious buildings. Recently heartbroken and just plain broke, Jules is taken in by the splendor of her surroundings and accepts the terms, ready to leave her past life behind.

As she gets to know the residents and staff of the Bartholomew, Jules finds herself drawn to fellow apartment sitter Ingrid, who comfortingly, disturbingly reminds her of the sister she lost eight years ago. When Ingrid confides that the Bartholomew is not what it seems and the dark history hidden beneath its gleaming facade is starting to frighten her, Jules brushes it off as a harmless ghost story—until the next day, when Ingrid disappears.

Searching for the truth about Ingrid’s disappearance, Jules digs deeper into the Bartholomew’s dark past and into the secrets kept within its walls. Her discovery that Ingrid is not the first apartment sitter to go missing at the Bartholomew pits Jules against the clock as she races to unmask a killer, expose the building’s hidden past, and escape the Bartholomew before her temporary status becomes permanent.

Review –

Sager’s debut novel, Final Girls, wasn’t so much a horror novel as a commentary about horror movies in novel form. It was clever but also very well-crafted. The author tried to do something similar with The Last Time I Lie, which came out a year later and with significantly less satisfying results. This new novel is another attempt to make the model work. Whether or not it does depends on how invested one is in formula for the sake of formula.

Jules Larsen is getting over a breakup and the loss of her job when she finds a gig that seems too good to be true: The Bartholomew, a storied Manhattan building, wants to pay her thousands of dollars to simply occupy a vacant—and luxurious—apartment. Jules soon gets the feeling that all is not as it seems at the Bartholomew, which is, of course, a perfect setup for some psychological suspense, but the problem is that there is little in the way of narrative tension because Jules’ situation is so obviously not right from the very beginning. While interviewing for the job, she’s asked about her health history. She’s informed that she is not allowed to have guests in the apartment. She’s warned that she must not interact with or talk to anyone else about the building’s wealthy and famous inhabitants. And she learns that she will be paid under the table. While this might not be enough to deter someone who is broke and desperate, it does mean that Jules should be a bit more concerned than she is when the really scary stuff starts happening. 

Once the reader/listener discovers the secret of The Bartholomew, things start happening at a faster pace and the ending appears in hyper speed, almost too fast for me, but still very satisfying.

As I was listening I couldn’t help being reminded of Rosemary’s Baby by Ira Levin, The Sentinel by Jeffery Konvitz and The Graveyard Apartment by Mariko Koike.

The paranoia and tension will make this a great book to take on vacation this summer, but perhaps reading it alone at night would be second guessed.

 

 

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The Death of Mrs. Westaway by Ruth Ware

Book Description:

Published: May 29, 2018

Format: Audio/Audible

On a day that begins like any other, Hal receives a mysterious letter bequeathing her a substantial inheritance. She realizes very quickly that the letter was sent to the wrong person—but also that the cold-reading skills she’s honed as a tarot card reader might help her claim the money.

Soon, Hal finds herself at the funeral of the deceased…where it dawns on her that there is something very, very wrong about this strange situation and the inheritance at the centre of it.

Review –

In the author’s fourth novel in as many years, Harriet “Hal” Westaway is barely making ends meet as a tarot reader on the Brighton Pier.

Her mother died in a hit-and-run several years before, and in her grief, Hal has drifted into a solitary and poverty-stricken life. Worse still, she’s under threat from a loan shark who’s come to collect the interest on an earlier debt. So when she receives a letter saying she’s been named in the will of, possibly, an unknown grandmother, she decides to travel to Cornwall, despite fearing that it’s probably all a mistake.

There she meets several possible uncles and a creepy old housekeeper right out of a Daphne du Maurier novel, all against the backdrop of a run-down mansion. As Hal desperately tries to keep up her charade of belonging to the family, she realizes that the malevolent atmosphere of Trepassen House has strong roots in the past, when a young girl came to live there, fell in love, and was imprisoned in her bedroom. Hal just has to figure out exactly who this girl was…without getting herself killed.

The author continues to refine her gift for the slow unspooling of unease and mystery, developing a consistent sense of threat that’s pervasive and gripping. She uses tarot readings to hint at the supernatural, but at its heart, this is a very human mystery. The isolation of Trepassen House, its parliament of magpies, and its severely creepy housekeeper cultivate a dull sense of horror. Ware’s novels continue to evoke comparison to Agatha Christie; they certainly have that classic flavor despite the contemporary settings.

I rated this book 4 1/2 stars because it was slow to get started but the second half was on fire and I highly recommend it for any mystery/horror enthusiast.

 

The Ruins by Scott B. Smith

Book Description:

Published: August 1, 2007

Format: Audio

Craving an adventure to wake them from their lethargic Mexican holiday before they return home, four friends set off in search of one of their own who has travelled to the interior to investigate an archaeological dig in the Mayan ruins.
After a long journey into the jungle, the group come across a partly camouflaged trail and a captivating hillside covered with red flowers. Lured by these, the group move closer until they happen across a gun-toting Mayan horseman who orders them away. In the midst of the confrontation, one of the group steps inadvertently backwards into the flowering vine. And at that moment their world changes for ever…

Review –

This is the second time I have listened to this book but since I knew the story it didn’t shock me as much. It is creepy, suspenseful, and terrifying. You know the minute the vines have been crossed the outcome will be very bad and very bad doesn’t begin to describe the end of the story.

Our neighbor has a chain link fence and we have a wooden one and some sort of VINE is growing through his fence and through the slats of ours and every time I rip them down they grow right back. That bought this book to mind so I decided to listen to it again.

If you haven’t read or listen to this you might want to give it a try.  There is a movie but I didn’t even bother to watch it when it came out in 2008 (it so doe not stick to the book)

Five stars.

 

 

 

 

The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson

Book Description:

Published: 1959

Format: Audio/Audible

The classic supernatural thriller by an author who helped define the genre. First published in 1959, Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House has been hailed as a perfect work of unnerving terror.

It is the story of four seekers who arrive at a notoriously unfriendly pile called Hill House: Dr. Montague, an occult scholar looking for solid evidence of a “haunting;’ Theodora, his lighthearted assistant; Eleanor, a friendless, fragile young woman well acquainted with poltergeists; and Luke, the future heir of Hill House. At first, their stay seems destined to be merely a spooky encounter with inexplicable phenomena. But Hill House is gathering its powers—and soon it will choose one of them to make its own.

Review –

I first READ this book in 2009, and then LISTENED to it in 2014, so this makes my third time.

The movie is one of my all time favorites (the original with Julie Harris) and is very close to the book. The writer of the screen play did a great job. There are, of course, a few changes, but they are very subtle and don’t change the plot or outcome of the story line.

Looking for a change in reading genre – give this gem a try.

 

Mine by Brett Battles

Book Description:

Published: July 19, 2016

Format: Audio/Audible

Something happened that night in the woods at Camp Red Hawk. But all Joel and Leah can recall is sneaking out for a late hike with five camp friends, and that only the two of them and their friend Mike returned.

They have no memory of what happened to the others. No memory of anything after leaving the camp.

In the years that follow, they realize something has changed inside of them. They are different from others, in ways they never should be. In ways that send their lives down disturbing and terrifying paths.

As they grapple with adulthood, their only hope for understanding why they’ve been altered lies with them finding each other again. But how is that possible when their memories of one another have been erased?

Review –

I am a fan of Brett Battles and will be listening to books three and four in the  Project Eden series very soon. This series is a blend of thriller, horror and crime drama, and that’s what I’m used to when I think of Brett Battles. Mine is none of those things. Instead it’s a sci-fi meets coming of age. It’s a common enough story about how aliens plan to take over the earth and eliminate the humans but this has the addition of the bond of friendship. Without the friendship the three survivors had between them, none of them would have come out alive.

The only thing that disappointed me was the ending.  There was an epilogue and it was very very predictable. I wish the author would have made it a cliffhanger.

All in all, it was a great listen.

 

After the Cure by Deirdra Gould

Book Description:

Published: August 24, 2013

Eight years ago the December Plague swept through the human population of earth. The Infected were driven mad by the disease, becoming violent and cannibalistic, killing even those closest to them without hesitation. Six years ago, the tiny surviving community of Immune humans found a cure, and the Infected began to wake up and realize what they’d done. Over time, society has begun to rebuild itself. It’s now ready to judge those responsible for the Plague. Nella Rider, the court psychologist and Frank Courtlen a defense attorney are trying to establish the truth. But more depends on it than they know. Can they find the answers they need before the fragile remains of humanity vanish for good?

Review –

This is zombie fiction at it’s best!

The plot is captivating and it’s scary to think that there are people out in our world TODAY crazy enough to pull off something like this. It also shows the lengths the human spirit will go to survive.  The characters are well-defined and Frank and Nella have such  good chemistry that you can’t help but route for them. Though this book is a good “stand  alone” it is the first of three in a series and I will definitely be reading those in the future.

If you like post-apocalyptic stories or the zombie genre, this book is for you!

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Origin by J.N. Konrath

Book Description:

Published: April 8, 2009

1906 – Something is discovered by workers digging the Panama Canal. Something dormant. Sinister. Very much alive.

2009 – Project Samhain. A secret underground government installation begun 103 years ago in New Mexico. The best minds in the world have been recruited to study the most amazing discovery in the history of mankind. But the century of peaceful research is about to end.

Because it just woke up.

When linguist Andrew Dennison is yanked from his bed by the Secret Service and taken to a top secret facility in the desert , he has no idea he’s been brought there to translate the words of an ancient demon.

He joins pretty but cold veterinarian Sun Jones, eccentric molecular biologist Dr. Frank Belgium, and a hodge-podge of religious, military, and science personnel to try and figure out if the creature is, indeed, Satan.

But things quickly go bad, and very soon Andy isn’t just fighting for his life, but the lives of everyone on earth…

Review –

A very eerie story of coming face to face with the most evil thing on earth or anywhere else and what happens when you try to out smart it.

A great read.

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In The Tall Grass by Stephen King and Joe Hill

Book Description:

Published: October 9, 2012

As USA TODAY said of Stephen King’s Mile 81: Park and scream. Could there be any better place to set a horror story than an abandoned rest stop?”

In the Tall Grass begins with a sister and brother who pull off to the side of the road after hearing a young boy crying for help from beyond the tall grass. Within minutes they are disoriented, in deeper than seems possible, and they lost one another. The boy’s cries are more and more desperate. What follows is a terrifying, entertaining, and masterfully told tale, as only Stephen King can deliver.

Review –

This is a very short story that will keep you from stopping on any deserted highway and walking into tall grass. Very spooky. I loved it.

 

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The Fun House by Dean Koontz

Book Description:

Published: 1980

Once there was a girl who ran away and joined a traveling carnival. She married a man she grew to hate—and gave birth to a child she could never love. A child so monstrous that she killed it with her own hands…Twenty-five years later, Ellen Harper has a new life, a new husband, and two normal children—Joey loves monster movies, and Amy is about to graduate from high school. But their mother drowns her secret guilt in alcohol and prayer. The time has come for Amy and Joey to pay for her sins…

Because Amy is pregnant.

And the carnival is coming back to town.

Review –

I’ve only been to a carnival once or twice but after reading this book I’ll never go again.

Really suspenseful and creepy with well-defined characters and “beasties”and plenty of blood and guts.  Horror at it’s best, written by one of the best.

If you like spooky, this is for you.

 

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Bedbugs by Ben H. Winters

Book Description

September 6, 2011
FOR RENT: Top two floors of beautifully renovated brownstone, 1300 sq. ft., 2BR 2BA, eat-in kitchen, one block to parks and playgrounds. No broker’s fee.

Susan and Alex Wendt have found their dream apartment.

Sure, the landlady is a little eccentric. And the elderly handyman drops some cryptic remarks about the basement. But the rent is so low, it’s too good to pass up.

Big mistake. Susan soon discovers that her new home is crawling with bedbugs . . . or is it? She awakens every morning with fresh bites, but neither Alex nor their daughter Emma has a single welt. An exterminator searches the property and turns up nothing. The landlady insists her building is clean. Susan fears she’s going mad—until a more sinister explanation presents itself: she may literally be confronting the bedbug problem from Hell.

Review –
I’m not going to give away too much but know that is like a Stephen King meets Twilight Zone in its spookiness and horror and will leave you ITCHING for more. #notsorryforthepun  
This is a great read.
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