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 –

This one is a must for your TBR if you are looking for a fast-paced story that is easily read in any setting and impossible to put down. If you’re new to this author,(as I am)then know his writing style is very similar to Harlan Coben’s, meaning there are usually many plot lines that start out removed from each other but are slowly brought together toward the end for the big reveal.

While it was wholly compulsive and difficult to put down, A Noise Downstairs doesn’t become an action driven plot for the first thirty to forty percent of the novel; we take our time in a slow burning suspense while becoming acquainted with the characters, which is a style of writing I’m quite partial to. Ok, except for that first section, which perfectly hooked my attention. 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.

The plot is told mostly through three points of view: Paul’s, Anna’s (the psychiatrist), and Charlotte’s (Paul’s current wife). Also sprinkled throughout the story we learn about Paul’s ex-wife, her new husband, Paul’s son, Anna’s father, and Kenneth and his family. Everything pretty much branches off from these particular head points, and there are side plots galore. Maybe a few people will find it unnecessarily confusing, but I thought it was tastefully done and added to the intrigue. Which side plots would turn out to be connected to the main? Which were red herrings? Which were unrelated but still vital to the story’s characterization? This was all present and kept me, a seasoned mystery fanatic, busy, preoccupied, and flustered in the best way possible.

I thought I had it all figured out, and I was both right and wrong. I LOVE IT WHEN THIS HAPPENS! Let me explain (minus the spoilers). If you are an expert detective while reading novels of suspense, or if you’ve even simply read a few, you’ll probably think you know where this is going. And you’d be right, EXCEPT… Here’s the thing, I had the who, the why, and some of the how figured out. There are only so many options to what’s going on with the dang typewriter, so naturally many readers will come to that conclusion on their own. What I loved was that the author gives us all this, and it’s a red herring in and of itself.  I won’t tell you exactly when this happens, because I don’t want you to be expecting it, but it’s not at the very end. And then come the waves of reveals my friends… WAVES! How exciting is it to keep receiving twists, both big and small, time after time until the last page is turned? The first twist that I hadn’t personally figured out knocked me completely off balance when it happened. It’s been awhile I’ve read a book where the author chose to use this particular plot element and it was beautifully done.

Fantastic read!

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.

 

Never Have I Ever by Joshilyn Jackson

 

Book Description:

Published: July 30, 2019

Format: Audio/OverDrive

In this game, even winning can be deadly…

Amy Whey is proud of her ordinary life and the simple pleasures that come with it—teaching diving lessons, baking cookies for new neighbors, helping her best friend, Charlotte, run their local book club. Her greatest joy is her family: her devoted professor husband, her spirited fifteen-year-old stepdaughter, her adorable infant son. And, of course, the steadfast and supportive Charlotte. But Amy’s sweet, uncomplicated life begins to unravel when the mysterious and alluring Angelica Roux arrives on her doorstep one book club night.

Sultry and magnetic, Roux beguiles the group with her feral charm. She keeps the wine flowing and lures them into a game of spilling secrets. Everyone thinks it’s naughty, harmless fun. Only Amy knows better. Something wicked has come her way—a she-devil in a pricey red sports car who seems to know the terrible truth about who she is and what she once did.

When they’re alone, Roux tells her that if she doesn’t give her what she asks for, what she deserves, she’s going to make Amy pay for her sins. One way or another.

To protect herself and her family and save the life she’s built, Amy must beat the devil at her own clever game, matching wits with Roux in an escalating war of hidden pasts and unearthed secrets. Amy knows the consequences if she can’t beat Roux. What terrifies her is everything she could lose if she wins.

A diabolically entertaining tale of betrayal, deception, temptation, and love filled with dark twists leavened by Joshilyn Jackson’s trademark humor, Never Have I Ever explores what happens when the transgressions of our past come back with a vengeance.

Review –

It was supposed to be book club as usual: a group of suburban mothers gathering to talk over a glass of wine or two and then going home to bed. But when new neighbor Angelica Roux shows up at hostess Amy’s door, it doesn’t take long for all hell to break loose. The booze flows freely, and soon the women are engaged in a game: What is the worst thing you did today? This week? This month? In your life? There are many women in the gathering with secrets to protect, but none more than Amy, who, as a teenager, committed a terrible crime that almost destroyed her. Saved by her love for diving, and then by meeting her husband and stepdaughter, Amy has worked hard to build a normal, stable life; she even has a new baby.

Angelica has come to threaten all of this; she clearly knows about Amy’s past and will expose her to her loved ones if Amy doesn’t pay her. As Amy tries desperately to outscheme Angelica, she also realizes just how much she has to fight for—and what she might be willing to do to keep her family safe and her secrets buried.

This is a fantastic book and once you start reading or listening(as in my case), you can’t bear to stop.

There are so many twists and turns. Just when i thought I knew the motive for all of Roux’s actions, the author throws a curve ball that puts the story in a totally different direction. No spoilers, but you don’t get to the true crux of the plot until the end and what an ending it is!

Five stars!

The Ex-Wife by Jess Ryder

Book Description:

Published: June 5, 2018

Format: Audio/Audible

You’ve got everything she wants …

Newly married Natasha has the perfect house, a loving husband and a beautiful little girl called Emily. She’d have it all if it wasn’t for Jen, her husband’s ex-wife who just won’t leave them alone …

Then Natasha returns home one day to find her husband and Emily gone without trace. Desperate to get her daughter back, Natasha will do anything even if it means accepting an offer of help from Jen. But can she trust her? And do either of them really know the man they married?

If you loved The Girl on the Train, Gone Girl or The Couple Next Door then this dark, twisting psychological thriller from Amazon chart bestseller Jess Ryder is guaranteed to have you gripped.

Review –

The story begins with an intriguing prologue set in a hospital which doesn’t give anything away. The plot then unravels through alternating chapters narrated by Natasha and Anna. Natasha has a wonderful marriage and lives a life of luxury with her husband, Nick and daughter, Emily. The only issue with her picture-perfect marriage is Jen, Nick’s ex-wife, who seems to be in their lives a bit too much. Naturally, Natasha is not too pleased about this. Things take a nastier turn when Nick and Emily disappear. The second narration tells the story of a woman on the run. We don’t get to know much about Anna until later in the story. However, it was easy to feel the tension in her story. I kept wondering who was after her and why.

This story is very well narrated. It is captivating and full of surprises. The plot is masterfully developed and so were the characters. I had some clear favorites from the first page. However, my feelings about other characters kept changing with each new chapter. Not knowing what would happen next is what I enjoyed most in this story. I couldn’t predict any of the twists and I love the fact that the author just kept them coming.

With a fast pace, complex characters and well executed twists, (many that you won’t see coming)this ended up being quite an enjoyable, addictive read. A great read and a great psychological thriller!

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.

 

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 Bone Farm (Jane Hawk #0.5) by Dean Koontz

Book Description:

Published: April 25, 2018

Format: Audio/Audible

An audio original novella featuring bestselling author Dean Koontz’s compelling new heroine, Jane Hawk. From the case files of the former FBI agent before she became the nation’s most wanted fugitive – The Bone Farm details a desperate man-hunt for a serial killer before he murders again.

Katherine Haskell, a young college co-ed is on her way back to school, but she never makes it there. Instead, she becomes the latest prey of the rapist and murderer dubbed by the tabloids the “Mother Hater.” He is a twisted soul who kidnaps young girls for pleasure then discards them.

Katherine is missing, but she’s not yet dead. FBI agents Jane Hawk and her partner Gary Burkett must descend into the hell of this killer’s mind to solve the case before it is too late. The question is – will they both get out alive?

Review –

I have not read any of the Jane Hawk series by Dean Koontz (one of my favorite authors), so this novella was the perfect choice to get to know the female protagonist.

This is a prequel to the Jane Hawk series. One does not need to read any of the Jane Hawk novels to understand the events in this short story. In this one, Jane and her partner are investigating a serial killer case where the killer is named the “Mother Hater”.

We get Jane in the present and we also get the past and see how the serial killer comes to be. I have always liked this kind of storytelling as it seems like it is two different stories. Plot held my interest even though it was a the predictable side and it is a quick listen.

The Bone Farm was a suspenseful and intriguing story filled with twists and turns and the narrator was quite good. Plot held my interest even though it was a the predictable side.

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.

 

My Husband’s Wife by Jane Corry

Book Description:

Published: January 31, 2017

Format: Audio/OverDrive

When young lawyer Lily marries Ed, she’s determined to make a fresh start. To leave the secrets of the past behind. But then she takes on her first murder case and meets Joe. A convicted murderer whom Lily is strangely drawn to. For whom she will soon be willing to risk almost anything.

But Lily is not the only one with secrets. Her next-door neighbor Carla may be only nine, but she has already learned that secrets are powerful things. That they can get her whatever she wants.

When Lily finds Carla on her doorstep sixteen years later, a chain of events is set in motion that can end only one way.

Review –

Newlywed London lawyer Lily Macdonald’s best intentions land her in some of the worst predicaments in British author, Jane Corry’s U.S. debut, in which almost no one proves totally trustworthy.

For instance, Lily’s generous impulse to befriend nine-year-old neighbor Carla Cavoletti, a bullied Italian immigrant with whose vulnerability she identifies, will eventually change the course of the lives of Lily and her artist husband, Ed, unfortunately not for the better. In the same way, Lily’s drive to champion clients she views as underdogs, which stems in part from experiences with her autistic brother, blinds her to the fact that some are dangerously manipulative liars who actually belong behind bars. But well-meaning as Lily is, readers will discover she isn’t above hiding some rather unsavory secrets of her own. As twisty as little Carla’s glossy curls, which inspire Ed’s best work, this swiftly moving psychological thriller offers surprises right up to the finish.

Great read!

Lies She Told by Cate Holahan

Book Description:

Published: September 12, 2017

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Sometimes the truth is darker than fiction.

Liza Jones has thirty days to write the thriller that could put her back on the bestseller list. In the meantime, she’s struggling to start a family with her husband, who is distracted by the disappearance of his best friend, Nick. With stresses weighing down in both her professional and her personal life, Liza escapes into writing her latest heroine.

Beth is a new mother who suspects her husband is cheating on her while she’s home alone providing for their newborn. Angry and betrayed, Beth sets out to catch him in the act and make him pay for shattering the illusion of their perfect life. But before she realizes it, she’s tossing the body of her husband’s mistress into the river.

Then the lines between fiction and reality begin to blur. Nick’s body is dragged from the Hudson and Liza’s husband is arrested for his murder. Before her deadline is up, Liza will have to face up to the truths about the people around her, including herself. If she doesn’t, the end of her heroine’s story could be the end of her own.

Review –

Manhattan author, Liza Cole, the protagonist of this engrossing psychological thriller from author Cate Holahan, is under pressure from her editor, Trevor, to write a romantic suspense novel that will get her back on the bestseller lists. In the past, Trevor has settled for a rough idea; now he wants an outline, which Liza has never done, and he has given her exactly thirty days to produce one.
On the personal side, Liza and her lawyer husband, David, are trying to conceive a baby, and their sex life has suffered. In addition, David’s best friend and law partner, Nick Landau, has been missing for a month and is almost certainly dead.
Over the next month, as her deadline approaches, Liza draws on her suppressed emotions and memories to create the heroine of her new book, Beth, a young mother who suspects her husband of being unfaithful. Beth’s story line soon takes turns that echo sinister developments in Liza’s own life. Holahan keeps the suspense high by leaving it unclear who’s telling the truth and who’s lying until the surprising denouement.
I’m not going to tell you what happens but it’s a roller coaster of a ride with a great and satisfying ending.
Loved it!