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 American Girl by Kate Horsley

Book Description:

Published: August 2, 2016

Format: Audio/OverDrive

A riveting psychological thriller about an American exchange student in France involved in a suspicious accident and the dark secrets a small town is hiding. . .

On a quiet summer morning seventeen-year-old American exchange student Quinn Perkins stumbles out of the woods near the small French town of St. Roch, barefoot, bloodied, and unable to say what has happened to her.

Quinn’s appearance creates a stir, especially since her host family, the Blavettes, has mysteriously disappeared. Now the media, and everyone in the idyllic village, are wondering if the American girl has anything to do with the missing family.

Quinn’s appearance creates a stir, especially since her host family, the Blavettes, has mysteriously disappeared. Now the media, and everyone in the idyllic village, are wondering if the American girl has anything to do with the missing family.

A Boston reporter named Molly Swift travels to St. Roch, prepared to do anything to learn the truth and score the ultimate scoop. After Quinn is arrested and a trial by media ensues, she finds an unlikely ally in the young journalist. Molly unravels the disturbing secrets of the town’s past in an effort to clear Quinn’s name, but even she is forced to admit that the American girl makes a compelling suspect.

Is Quinn truly an innocent abroad, or is she a cunning, diabolical killer intent on getting away with murder?

Review –

Quinn is a seventeen year-old American exchange student spending time in a small French town. One fateful morning, she comes walking out of the woods scared, bloody, and unable to remember what led her there. To top it off, her host family has mysteriously disappeared. Is Quinn responsible, or does it have something to do with the small town’s sinister secrets? Desperate for answers and a shocking story, the media descends upon the town. Among the reporters is American, Molly Swift, who will do anything to get to the bottom of it, including getting way too involved and telling lie after lie.

The story is creepy, mysterious, and incredibly fast paced. The viewpoints alternated between Quinn and Molly, and were told in several formats: blog posts from Quinn leading up to the incident, video diaries from Quinn AFTER the incident, and Molly’s viewpoint in the present. I enjoyed seeing what happened before and what happened after and trying to unravel the mystery and the secrets of the town. I was shocked again and again.

To say that this story is intriguing would be an understatement. I was sucked in from the get-go and felt an unrelenting need to know what was happening.  I found myself constantly second guessing what I thought was going on and was continually puzzled. The end is one you won’t see coming!

I’d highly recommend this one to fans of mysteries and thrillers — I gave this five stars!

I See You by Clare Mackintosh

Book Description:

Published: February 21, 2017

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Every morning and evening, Zoe Walker takes the same route to the train station, waits at a certain place on the platform, finds her favorite spot in the car, never suspecting that someone is watching her…

It all starts with a classified ad. During her commute home one night, while glancing through her local paper, Zoe sees her own face staring back at her; a grainy photo along with a phone number and a listing for a website called FindTheOne.com.

Other women begin appearing in the same ad, a different one every day, and Zoe realizes they’ve become the victims of increasingly violent crimes—including murder. With the help of a determined cop, she uncovers the ad’s twisted purpose…A discovery that turns her paranoia into full-blown panic. Zoe is sure that someone close to her has set her up as the next target.

And now that man on the train—the one smiling at Zoe from across the car—could be more than just a friendly stranger. He could be someone who has deliberately chosen her and is ready to make his next move…

Review –

Fantastic read!  Five stars!

Commuting. It’s a daily chore for so many and something you don’t much think about, you just do what you can to get through it: iPad perhaps, paper, seat by the window – if you’re lucky. What we don’t imagine, in all that sweaty, claustrophobic tedium, is that someone is watching us, making notes.

The author, Clare Mackintosh, has picked exactly this creepy scenario as the context for her second psychological thriller I See You.

Where I live people do their commuting by driving instead of trains, subways or “tubes”. Driving or city bus is what we do here. I no longer work so I don’t commute but I still do plenty of driving and after reading this book it makes me want to totally change-up my routes to the places where I run the most errands.

This is one creepy thriller and it also shows how vulnerable we are due to our social media sites and apps. How would you feel if you saw your picture in an advert (advertisement) for a dating site in the local paper? Zoe was shocked at first and then became more and more concerned. The police got involved and found out men could buy women’s profile which included a complete layout of her daily commute, also her description and what she would be wearing. Some of these men just wanted to”date” these women but others were looking for their next victim to torture, rape or kill.

The book is fast-paced and keeps you on the edge of your seat.  The person behind the web site is found out and dealt with but at the very end there is a GIANT shocker (although I wondered about this myself and sure enough I was right)

Just what it is you will have to read or listen to the book  to find out and it’s not a long book so it won’t take long to devour; because that’s what you’ll do once you start!

Fantastic!!!!!

Defending Jacob: A Novel by William Landay

Book Description:

Published: January 31, 2012

Andy Barber has been an assistant district attorney in his suburban Massachusetts county for more than twenty years. He is respected in his community, tenacious in the courtroom, and happy at home with his wife, Laurie, and son, Jacob. But when a shocking crime shatters their New England town, Andy is blindsided by what happens next: His fourteen-year-old son is charged with the murder of a fellow student.

Every parental instinct Andy has rallies to protect his boy. Jacob insists that he is innocent, and Andy believes him. Andy must. He’s his father. But as damning facts and shocking revelations surface, as a marriage threatens to crumble and the trial intensifies, as the crisis reveals how little a father knows about his son, Andy will face a trial of his own—between loyalty and justice, between truth and allegation, between a past he’s tried to bury and a future he cannot conceive.

Award-winning author William Landay has written the consummate novel of an embattled family in crisis—a suspenseful, character-driven mystery that is also a spellbinding tale of guilt, betrayal, and the terrifying speed at which our lives can spin out of control.

 

Review –

I had the audio version of this book and found it very hard to pull myself away from the narration.

Andy Barber is keeping a secret from everyone about his past. One that could influence the future  life of his son.  Andy’s father, grandfather and great-grandfather were all very violent men and either died violently at the hand of another or ended up in prison for murder.

During the trial of his son the horrible secret comes out and nearly pulls the family forever apart especially when  DNA analysis determines that all, his father, who has been in prison for almost as long as Andy has been alive, Andy  and his son, Jacob, all carry the “murder gene”.  I won’t tell you how but, Jacob is determined to be innocent but his father isn’t so sure.  The ending was a total surprise to me and tears came to my eyes. 

Defending Jacob is a profound and moving story and I highly recommend it.  I rated it 5 stars *****

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The Last Town (Wayward Pines #3) by Blake Crouch

Book Description

July 15, 2014

Welcome to Wayward Pines, the last town.

Secret Service agent Ethan Burke arrived in Wayward Pines, Idaho, three weeks ago. In this town, people are told who to marry, where to live, where to work. Their children are taught that David Pilcher, the town’s creator, is god. No one is allowed to leave; even asking questions can get you killed.

But Ethan has discovered the astonishing secret of what lies beyond the electrified fence that surrounds Wayward Pines and protects it from the terrifying world beyond. It is a secret that has the entire population completely under the control of a madman and his army of followers, a secret that is about to come storming through the fence to wipe out this last, fragile remnant of humanity.

Blake Crouch’s electrifying conclusion to the Wayward Pines Series—now a Major Television Event Series debuting Winter 2015 on FOX—will have you glued to the page right down to the very last word.

Review –

This is one of my favorite series and with this being the last in the trilogy, the author did not disappoint. 

The “abbies” have been defeated and now the people left in town try to put their lives back together. They find out that the food stores are running dangerously low and Winter is coming when fresh food is non existent and so they have to make a decision.  Do they stay for as long as the food will last or do they try to move somewhere warmer, which would be very hard because of having to travel through “abbie” territory so they decide to do something that is the  last thing any one them would have ever thought they would do. They decide to go back into suspended animation for a length of time for the “abbies” to evolve into something that the humans could live with. I won’t tell you how long they stay in suspension but my mouth dropped opened when I heard the last few words of the audio book version.  I couldn’t believe it!   I wish the author would write another series taking up where this one leaves off.

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