The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena

Book Description:

Published: August 23, 2016

Format: Audio/OverDrive

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.

Review –

Holy Smokes! What a roller coaster ride!

The Couple Next Door had me gripped right from the very beginning. It essentially follows the disappearance of Marco and Anne’s baby daughter Cora, who is taken from her bed one night while the couple attend a dinner party next door. The couple are racked with guilt, and as the investigation continues, more and more secrets and betrayals are revealed…

The narrative is told in the third-person and follows the experiences of Anne, Marco, Detective Rasbach and Jennings, the couple’s next door neighbour Cynthia, and Anne’s parents Richard and Alice. The narrative provides an in-depth and detailed analysis of all of the characters, as they attempt to piece together the puzzle that is Cora’s disappearance.

Anne and Marco are the central protagonists. Anne, suffering with Postpartum (or Postnatal) depression after the birth of her daughter Cora, is racked with guilt and anxiety after her disappearance. She struggles to cope emotionally, and seeks comfort from her parents and husband. Her motherly instincts take over, and she will ultimately do anything to save her daughter. But of course, she has a few secrets lurking in her own past.

Marco is strong and determined, and puts on a brave face to support his wife. But deep down he is really struggling to come to terms with what has happened, and Cora’s disappearance challenges everything he thought he knew. I flitted between hating Marco and feeling sympathy for him, and if you read the book you’ll discover why. He makes some major mistakes, and must pay the price for them. Marco is a much more complex character than he first appears to be.

The other minor characters are all excellently portrayed. Rasbach and Jennings attempt to solve the case as efficiently as they can, but when lots of new clues and curveballs are thrown in, the investigation becomes difficult. Anne’s parents Richard and Alice are incredibly rich, and it seems they will do anything to get their grandchild back. And the neighbors Cynthia and Graham are much more complex than they first appear to be.

As the narrative goes on, more and more mysteries and secrets are revealed. This is a novel where you think you know where the story is going – but then the author throws in a clever curveball, and all expectations are reversed. There is an excellent attention to detail in this highly-complex narrative – it’s a “blink-and-you’ll-miss-it” kind of narrative. It does require lots of concentration and attention from the reader, but is definitely worth it in my opinion.

So, let’s talk about the ending. I have to say that I was pretty disappointed with the final ending, and to me that majorly let the book down. I was pleased with what I thought was the final revelation, as it gave a sense of hope for the future of the characters. But then a new element in thrown into the story, and to me it just seemed unnecessary and too exaggerated to be deemed as realistic and for me, ruined the whole story. One minute there was a happy ending and the next there was anything but.

Overall, I highly recommend this novel to those of you who like domestic thrillers, particularly if you enjoy reading complex, multi-layered plots. It has excellently-constructed characters, plenty of mystery and suspense, and killer twists. The ending did really disappoint me, but don’t let that put you off – you might enjoy it! A great read.

 

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The Reunion by Samatha Hayes

Book Description:

Published: February 9, 2018

Format: Audio/Audible

They were all there the day your sister went missing…Who is lying? Who is next?

Then–In charge of her little sister at the beach, Claire allowed Eleanor to walk to the shop alone to buy an ice cream. Placing a coin into her hand, Claire told her to be quick, knowing how much she wanted the freedom. Eleanor never came back.

Now–The time has finally come to sell the family farm and Claire is organising a reunion of her dearest friends, the same friends who were present the day her sister went missing.

When another girl disappears, long-buried secrets begin to surface. One of the group hides the darkest secret of them all…

Review –

Have you noticed that there seems to be an abundance of children going missing crime/psychological thrillers on the market at the moment, and wasn’t convinced that author would be able to put an original spin on a well used subject, but somehow she does.

The book begins with the disappearance of teenager Eleanor, while spending the day at the beach with her brother, sister and their friends. Fast forward twenty one years and her family are still no closer to knowing what happened to her all those years ago. Dad, Patrick is now suffering from Alzheimers, and daughter Claire decides that a reunion of friends and family could help her dad with his memory issues. As the group of friends are reunited they find themselves plunged into a further nightmare as shocking secrets are slowly revealed.

If I’m honest I thought the first half of the book was very slow, the time is spent introducing an array of characters and building on the mystery and suspense surrounding Eleanor’s disappearance. None of the characters were extremely likable, but that said it did not stop me enjoying this book. The author manages to ramp up the tension by creating characters that are almost impossible to trust.

The Reunion has some great twists and misleading clues to make this an intense and a heart pounding  read. If I had anything negative to say it would be that a few things were left unanswered by the time I reached the end, but never the less it still made for an intriguing read and I gave it five stars!

 

The Switch by Joseph Finder

Book Description:

Published: June 13, 2017

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Michael Tanner is heading home from a business trip when he accidentally picks up the wrong laptop from security. What he doesn’t know is that the owner is US Senator Susan Robbins, and her laptop contains top secret files that should never have been on there in the first place.

And Senator Robbins is not the only one who wants the laptop back… Suddenly, Tanner is a hunted man. On the run, terrified for the safety of his family – he is in desperate need of a plan – but who can he trust?

Review –

“Boston coffee executive Michael Tanner’s life is in jeopardy after he takes home the wrong laptop from the airport—one belonging to an Illinois senator containing highly classified files.

The illegally uploaded files contain information about a scary government surveillance program. Fearful that the documents will be made public, torpedoing her presidential hopes, Sen. Susan Robbins assigns her overeager chief of staff, Will Abbott, to retrieve the computer. When all else fails, he resorts to hiring private operatives. Tanner discovers how desperate his situation is when a newspaper writer to whom he has shown the secret files is killed, in what is staged as a suicide. On the run, running low on cash and places to hide, Tanner is targeted not only by Abbott’s hires, but also by thugs working for the National Security Agency, which deactivates all his online accounts. “Privacy?” utters one character. “Get over it. No such thing anymore.” Seemingly ripped from recent headlines, Finder’s latest is one of his most fiendishly plotted and eerily relevant thrillers. It involves careless security breaches by government officials, Russian spies, Edward Snowden parallels, and even an exchange of secrets in a Sensitive Compartmentalized Information Facility like the one recently utilized by Devin Nunes, Republican chairman of the House Intelligence Committee. Finder isn’t one to waste time considering the moral implications of such quickly forgotten acts as Tanner mowing down a pursuer with his car. And he fudges plot details: wouldn’t the bad guys surveil Tanner’s wife and let her lead them to him? But the book whizzes by so quickly and suspensefully, why dwell on such imperfections?

A master of what might be called the “man in over his head” thriller, Finder delivers a tense, uncannily relevant tale about government secrets falling into the wrong hands.” Kirkus Review 

Excellent read!

 

Best Friends Forever by Margot Hunt

Book Description:

Published: January 23, 2018

Format: Audio/OverDrive

How well do you really know your best friend?

Kat Grant and Alice Campbell have a friendship forged in shared confidences and long lunches lubricated by expensive wine. Though they’re very different women—the artsy socialite and the struggling suburbanite—they’re each other’s rocks. But even rocks crumble under pressure. Like when Kat’s financier husband, Howard, plunges to his death from the second-floor balcony of their South Florida mansion.

Howard was a jerk, a drunk, a bully and, police say, a murder victim. The questions begin piling up. Like why Kat has suddenly gone dark: no calls, no texts and no chance her wealthy family will let Alice see her. Why investigators are looking so hard in Alice’s direction. Who stands to get hurt next. And who is the cool liar—the masterful manipulator behind it all.

Review –

This book is told from the point of view of Alice, who appreciates the freshness that  new friend,Kat, brings into her mundane family life, giving her a break, but she begins to realize that perhaps Kat is not QUITE as friendly as she seems.

It is very interesting as we see the present Alice being interviewed by the police and the past Alice meeting Kat, becoming friends, and  all the ways their lives entwine – but underneath it all it is just a little off, not quite as bright and bubbly as it appears. Margot Hunt layers it well, genuinely keeping you guessing, especially in relation to the psychology of everyone in this – from Kat to Alice, from both the husbands to the extended family – in the end the outcome is highly effective and the action builds to a huge reveal that leaves the reader wondering which of the two women is more twisted. Fans of psychological thrillers will be very well satisfied.

Fantastic read! Five stars!

Shadow Over the Fens (DI Nikki Galena #2) by Joy Ellis

BookDescription:

Published: June 30, 2016

Format: Audio/OverDrive

WHO CAN NIKKI TRUST WITH TWO BRUTAL KILLERS LOOSE ON THE FENS?

Someone terrible from DS Joseph Easter’s past is back . . .

DI Nikki Galena’s friend and neighbour meets a tragic end but there’s more to his death than meets the eye . . .

A man is found executed on a piece of wasteland in Greenborough town. The cold-blooded murder triggers terrible memories for DS Joseph Easter. Just when things seemed to be going well for DS Easter, he realises that the nightmare is coming back, threatening his career, his sanity, and maybe his life.

In a breath-taking conclusion even DI Galena begins to doubt him as he faces a race against time to save someone very close to him.

Set in the Lincolnshire Fens: great open skies brood over marshes, farmland, and nature reserves. It is not easy terrain for the Fenland Constabulary to police, due to the distances between some of the remote Fen villages, the dangerous and often misty lanes, and the poor telephone coverage. There are still villages where the oldest residents have never set foot outside their own farmland and a visit to the nearest town is a major event. But it has a strange airy beauty to it, and above it all are the biggest skies you’ve ever seen.

Review –

Joseph has decided to join the team and stay as DCI Nikki Galena’s sergeant and he is just getting over his injury from the first book. Now things are going horribly wrong for him as someone very bad from his past is back or is he? His competence is being questioned as nobody else has really seen the guy, but now people are being killed.

Nikki has come to trust Joseph and so she believes him when he says that it was Billy,(Joesph’s evil friend from the past) but that is not the only case they have her friend and neighbor Martin, looked to have committed suicide but she just can’t believe he would do that so she refuses to call it that and investigates.

Shadows Over the Fens was a very enjoyable and  interesting listen as things were not really looking good for Joseph, but yet you just know he can’t be doing anything bad. I thought I might know a bit how it was going to turn out and I was right on a few things but it still was a bit surprising. I am really enjoying getting to know DCI Nikki and DS Joseph! (still hoping something develops between these two)

 

 

 

 

Then She Was Gone By Lisa Jewell

Book Description:

Published: April 18, 2018

Format: Audio/OverDrive

THEN
She was fifteen, her mother’s
golden girl. She had her whole life ahead of her.
And then, in the blink of an eye, Ellie was gone.

NOW
It’s been ten years since Ellie
disappeared, but Laurel has never given up
hope of finding her daughter.
And then one day a charming and charismatic stranger called Floyd walks into a café and sweeps Laurel off her feet.
Before too long she’s staying the night at this house and being introduced to his nine-year old daughter.
Poppy is precocious and pretty – and meeting her completely takes Laurel’s breath away.

Because Poppy is the spitting image of Ellie when she was that age.
And now all those unanswered questions that have haunted Laurel come flooding back.

What happened to Ellie? Where did she go?
Who still has secrets to hide?

Review –

“Laurel Mack’s life stopped in many ways the day her fifteen year-old daughter, Ellie, left the house to study at the library and never returned.

She drifted away from her other two children, Hanna and Jake, and eventually she and her husband, Paul, divorced.

Ten years later, Ellie’s remains and her backpack are found, though the police are unable to determine the reasons for her disappearance and death. After Ellie’s funeral, Laurel begins a relationship with Floyd, a man she meets in a cafe. She’s disarmed by Floyd’s charm, but when she meets his young daughter, Poppy, Laurel is startled by her resemblance to Ellie.

As the novel progresses, Laurel becomes increasingly determined to learn what happened to Ellie, especially after discovering an odd connection between Poppy’s mother and her daughter even as her relationship with Floyd is becoming more serious.

 The book is split into three sections, including a first one which alternates chapters between the time of Ellie’s disappearance and the present and a second section that begins as Laurel and Floyd meet. Both of these sections primarily focus on Laurel. In the third section, Jewell alternates narrators and moments in time: The narrator switches to alternating first-person points of view (told by Poppy’s mother and Floyd) interspersed with third-person narration of Ellie’s experiences and Laurel’s discoveries in the present. All of these devices serve to build palpable tension, but the structure also contributes to how deeply disturbing the story becomes.” Kirkus Reviews

You will not believe the ending!!!

The book is dark and unsettling but so good.  Five stars!

Clipped Wings (Clipped Wings #1) by Helena Hunting

Book Description:

Published: March 4, 2014

Format: Audio/OverDrive

An emotional love story that follows the touch-and-go relationship of Hayden and Tenley; two young people who desperately want to love and be loved but are afraid to completely let go of their pasts.

As Hayden and Tenley navigate their newfound but slightly unstable relationship, they want to trust each other, but Hayden is hiding a dark and shameful past that he doesn’t ever want Tenley to find out about. And Tenley has secrets of her own that could make Hayden run away forever. When Tenley asks Hayden to put a beautifully elaborate tattoo across her back, the two form what they thought was an unshakeable bond. But when Tenley’s past shows up on her doorstep, will Hayden stand by her side…or run?

Review –

 This is a love story between two very damaged souls, who become co-dependant on each other .

When Tenley asks tattoo artist Hayden to ink an intricate design on her back, he is immediately intrigued by her and senses that she is hiding something from him. Something dark and tragic. He feels this immediate chemistry and connection with her. He senses the suffering and loneliness that they both share.

With all his ink and piercings, Hayden represents everything that Tenley has longed for. A wildness and freedom that she has never dared to take. She sees him as an escape from the pain she is suffering, but the emotional connection they begin to have together is more than she expected. A bond that goes beyond the physical. Both are hiding secrets, Tenley lost nine people, including her parents and fiancée in a plane crash and she blames herself, Hayden, found his parents shot to death in their bedroom and he blames himself. He also has a past full of drugs and sexual exploits with multiple women.

Neither are willing to share their past with the other and this leads to misunderstandings and hurt feelings. When Trey, Tenley’s fiancée’s brother, comes to her about an estate situation she packs up and goes back to Minnesota to put things right. She leaves without explaining anything to Hayden. This is where Book One ends,

Listening to this story was like witnessing a train wreck. I knew that their relationship was doomed because of the lack of communication. They thought having extremely good sex, often, would be enough to secure them as a couple .,

I have already started Book Two, Inked Armor, and can’t wait to finish it.

 

Badlands (The Highway Quartet #3) by C.J. Box

Book Description:

Published: July 28, 2015

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Grimstad, North Dakota – a place people used to be from, but were never headed to – has struck oil. As pipelines snake across the prairie, oil flows out and men and money flow in. And with them, comes crime. North Dakota’s new oil capital has a serious law and order problem and newly qualified detective Cassie Dewell has just been assigned as its deputy sheriff.

Twelve-year-old Kyle Westergaard is one of Grimstad’s paperboys. Even though Kyle has been written off as the “slow” kid, he has dreams deeper than anyone can imagine – he wants to get out of town, take care of his alcoholic mother, and give them a better life. While delivering newspapers, he witnesses a car accident and now has money and a lot of white powder in his possession.

With the temperature dropping to 30 below and a gang war heating up, Cassie fears she might be in over her head but the key to it all will come in the most unlikely form: an undersized boy on a bike who keeps showing up where he doesn’t belong.

Review –

Even thought I haven’t forgiven Mr. Box for killing of Cody Hoyt in Book Two, I decided to finish the series and Badlands came next.

Cassandra Dewell, Cody Hoyt’s ex-partner, can’t leave Montana’s Lewis and Clark County fast enough for her new job as chief investigator for Jon Kirkbride, sheriff of Bakken County.

She leaves behind no memories worth keeping: her husband is dead, her boss has made no bones about disliking her, and she’s looking forward to new responsibilities and the higher salary underwritten by North Dakota’s sudden oil boom (which I looked up and is true). But Bakken County has its own issues. For one thing, it’s cold—a whole lot colder than the coldest weather Cassie’s ever imagined. For another, the job she turns out to have been hired for—leading an investigation her new boss doesn’t feel he can entrust to his own force—makes her queasy. The biggest problem, though, is one she doesn’t know about until it slaps her in the face. A fatal car accident that was anything but accidental has jarred loose a stash of methamphetamines and cash that’s become the center of a battle between the Sons of Freedom, Bakken County’s traditional drug sellers, and MS-13, the Salvadorian upstarts who are muscling in on their territory. It’s a setup that leaves scant room for law enforcement officers or for Kyle Westergaard, the 12-year-old paperboy damaged since birth by fetal alcohol syndrome, who’s walked away from the wreck with a prize all too many people would kill for.

This is a fantastic read, full of suspense and a bone chilling description of North Dakota’s weather that will have you grabbing for a parka!

Killman Creek (Stillhouse Lake #2) by Rachel Caine

Book Description:

Published: December 12, 2017

Format: Audio/Audible

Every time Gwen closed her eyes, she saw him in her nightmares. Now her eyes are open, and he’s not going away.

Gwen Proctor won the battle to save her kids from her ex-husband, serial killer Melvin Royal, and his league of psychotic accomplices. But the war isn’t over. Not since Melvin broke out of prison. Not since she received a chilling text…

You’re not safe anywhere now.

Her refuge at Stillhouse Lake has become a trap. Gwen leaves her children in the protective custody of a fortified, well-armed neighbor. Now, with the help of Sam Cade, brother of one of Melvin’s victims, Gwen is going hunting. She’s learned how from one of the sickest killers alive.

But what she’s up against is beyond anything she feared—a sophisticated and savage mind game calculated to destroy her. As trust beyond her small circle of friends begins to vanish, Gwen has only fury and vengeance to believe in as she closes in on her prey. And sure as the night, one of them will die.

Review –

Killman Creek is the second book in the Stillhouse Lake Series. You don’t have to read the first book if you do not want to, as much of what happened in that book is explained in this one, but I would recommend it. Gwen Proctor is back as the primary protagonist,, although Sam (a man working with her to stop her ex, Marvin, whose sister was murdered by Marvin) and Gwen’s two children, Lanny and Connor (formerly Lily and Brady), also have their own voices within the story.

I like the back and forth between perspectives even though sometime I found both of the children to be very annoying, which fits with the characters being teenagers.

Killman Creek was darker than its predecessor as Caine took us on the hunt to catch a brilliant and twisted killer. OMG! I was biting my nails and clenching my fists with some of these realistic, terrifying scenes.

Gwen’s story is over, but there will be a third book, Wolfhunter River. Rumors  indicate this  book will deal with one of the supporting characters.  I cannot wait to see who it will be.

The Good Neighbor by A. J. Banner

Book Description:

Published: September 1, 2015

Format: Audio

Shadow Cove, Washington, is the kind of town everyone dreams about—quaint streets, lush forests, good neighbors. That’s what Sarah thinks as she settles into life with her new husband, Dr. Johnny McDonald. But all too soon she discovers an undercurrent of deception. And one October evening when Johnny is away, sudden tragedy destroys Sarah’s happiness.

Dazed and stricken with grief, she and Johnny begin to rebuild their shattered lives. As she picks up the pieces of her broken home, Sarah discovers a shocking secret that forces her to doubt everything she thought was true—about her neighbors, her friends, and even her marriage. With each stunning revelation, Sarah must ask herself, Can we ever really know the ones we love?

Review –

Things I Liked:

I enjoyed all the suspense and mystery in this one and there are plenty of red herrings, twists and one final jaw dropping turn that will leave you shocked. 

I liked the quick pace of this novel and  I was never bored, and I appreciated that the pace never faltered. 

I enjoy a good psychological/ thriller but it isn’t dark and disturbing so if you are one who likes your thrillers without gore and horror, this is a good one.

Things I Didn’t Like:

I was a bit disappointed that it didn’t take time to explore certain things a bit further. For instance, I was wanting way more on the aftermath of the fire. I would have loved more description and discussion on the investigation, the details on that aspect were a bit on the light side for my taste.

There are two story lines that the author takes time to develop only to purposely leave both hanging at the end, leaving me to wonder is there more story coming?

I liked the shocking conclusion and the big twist, but I have to admit, I thought it was a tiny bit unrealistic, but I guess that’s why it’s called fiction.