Stillhouse Lake

Stillhouse Lake

Stillhouse Lake by Rachel Caine
Published by Thomas & Mercer
Ebook
Expected publication 1 July 2017
302 pages
Kindle First

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This was my Kindle First choice for June.

WHAT’S IT’S ABOUT

Gina Royal is the definition of average—a shy Midwestern housewife with a happy marriage and two adorable children. But when a car accident reveals her husband’s secret life as a serial killer, she must remake herself as Gwen Proctor—the ultimate warrior mom.

With her ex now in prison, Gwen has finally found refuge in a new home on remote Stillhouse Lake. Though still the target of stalkers and Internet trolls who think she had something to do with her husband’s crimes, Gwen dares to think her kids can finally grow up in peace.

But just when she’s starting to feel at ease in her new identity, a body turns up in the lake—and threatening letters start arriving from an all-too-familiar address. Gwen Proctor must keep friends close and enemies at bay to avoid being exposed—or watch her kids fall victim to a killer who takes pleasure in tormenting her. One thing is certain: she’s learned how to fight evil. And she’ll never stop.

EXTRACT 

Gina never asked about the garage.

WHAT I THOUGHT

I thought Stillhouse Lake was an excellent read, a top notch psychological thriller. I liked the concept, not something I’ve really come across in the thriller genre before. The book opens with a bang with the skinned body of a woman being found as a result of a drunk driver crashing into the side of a garage unleashing terrible dark secrets. I knew I had to read on when I read this corker of an opener. I liked the characters. Gwen has had to become tough to take care of her kids in the fallout from her husband’s crimes and distance herself as much as possible from gullible, easily duped Gina Royal. I enjoyed the way the tension really builds in the novel from the moment the first body is found and Gwen struggles to hold onto the fragile life she’s built. Stillhouse Lake is the definition of a page turner. What spoiled it for me was the cliff-hanger ending. I’m not opposed to them as long as they work and there are enough unknowns to make a second or third book work. This isn’t the case with Stillhouse Lake. I felt the story concludes and there’s no need to drag the plot out for a second book. If there will be one otherwise a cliff-hanger is pointless. Stillhouse Lake is good and recommended but I wasn’t completely satisfied with the ending.

RATING

4 STAR RATING

Dead Man’s Prayer

Dead Man’s Prayer

NETDead Man’s Prayer by Jackie Baldwin
Published by Killer Reads
Ebook
Published 2 September 2016
309 pages
NetGalley

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I was given a review copy by the publisher via NetGalley and voluntarily reviewed it.

WHAT’S IT’S ABOUT 

Ex-priest DI Frank Farrell has returned to his roots in Dumfries, only to be landed with a disturbing murder case. Even worse, Farrell knows the victim: Father Boyd, the man who forced him out of the priesthood eighteen years earlier.

With no leads, Farrell must delve into the old priest’s past, one that is inexorably linked with his own. But his attention is diverted when a pair of twin boys go missing. The Dumfries police force recover one in an abandoned church, unharmed. But where is his brother?

As Farrell investigates the two cases, he can’t help but feel targeted. Is someone playing a sinister game, or is he seeing patterns that don’t exist? Either way, it’s a game Farrell needs to win before he loses his grip on his sanity, or someone else turns up dead.

EXTRACT 

Father Ignatius Boyd lifted the crystal tumbler to his mouth and gulped greedily at the brandy, his shaking hand causing the glass to knock unpleasantly against his teeth.

WHAT I THOUGHT 

I thought Dead Man’s Pray was great. I loved that it was set in Dumfries. Being Scottish, I have a weakness for fiction of any kind set here, especially crime fiction. I also love police procedurals. I loved the way this novel was paced, fast and intense, my favourite kind of book. I was hooked from start to finish. I liked the link to the church which isn’t found a lot in crime fiction. I loved the characters; they were made of flesh and blood and came to life. The plot really holds together in Dead Man’s Prayer. This novel is packed with twists and turns and I love that in crime fiction. I was second guessing all the time and often wrong. Dead Man’s Prayer is great and highly recommended.

RATING

5 STAR RATING

Missing, Presumed

Missing, Presumed

NETMissing, Presumed by Susie Steiner
Published by The Borough Press
Ebook
Published 25 February 2016
417 pages
NetGalley

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I was given a review copy by the publisher via NetGalley and voluntarily reviewed it

WHAT’S IT’S ABOUT 

A MISSING GIRL

Edith Hind is gone, leaving just her coat, a smear of blood and a half-open door.

A DESPERATE FAMILY

Each of her friends and relatives has a version of the truth. But none quite adds up.

A DETECTIVE AT BREAKING POINT

The press grows hungrier by the day. Can DS Manon Bradshaw fend them off, before a missing person’s case becomes a murder investigation?

EXTRACT

She can feel hope ebbing, like the Christmas lights on fade in Pound Saver. Manon tells herself to focus on the man sitting opposite, whose name might be Brian but could equally be Keith, who is crossing his legs and his foot bangs her shin just where the bone is nearest the surface. She reaches down to rub it but he’s oblivious.

WHAT I THOUGHT

I thought Missing, Presumed was a decent read. I liked the blurb but the book didn’t quite reach it’s potential. I thought the writing was very good, Steiner know how to tell a story. The description really brought things to life. Dialogue can be hard to pull off in a book and I’ve read a few where it’s flat and clunky – Steiner nails it in this book. I also felt the police procedural aspects came off well. Two aspects fell short for me.  I didn’t feel like I engaged with the characters as well as I’d hoped. The thought DS Bradshaw was well written but the other characters lacked something. I also didn’t like that some crime elements were pushed aside to focus on DS Bradshaw. I did enjoy Missed, Presumed though and it got much better towards the end. Missing, Presumed is worth a read and I’d recommend it.

RATING

3 STAR RATING

The Ascent

The Ascent

The Ascent by Ronald Malfi
Published by Medallion Press
Ebook
Published 1 September 2010
320 pages
Library book

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I read this for 2017 Popsugar Reading Challenge. The category is ‘a book set in the wilderness’.

WHAT’S IT’S ABOUT

After the death of his ex-wife, successful sculptor Tim Overleigh trades in his lucrative career for the world of extreme sports, but when a caving accident nearly ends his life, Tim falls into a self-destructive depression. On the cusp of madness, an old friend convinces him to join a team of men climbing the Godesh ridge in Nepal. When this journey of mythical and spiritual discovery rapidly turns deadly as the climbers fall victim to a murderer within their group, the remaining survivors begin to wonder if any of them will escape the mountains alive.

EXTRACT

I WASN’T THERE WHEN IT HAPPENED. BUT I CAN SEE it nonetheless: the Italian countryside cool in the stirrings of an early summer that promises not to be too overbearing.

WHAT I THOUGHT

This is my first time reading the author. I have a copy of his book Little Girls on my Kindle and look forward to reading it. The Ascent blew me away. It turned out to be a different book than the one I was expecting. In a good way. I thought it would be a run-of the-mill sinister novel about bad shit happening in the middle of nowhere. It was but it sort of wasn’t. The Ascent is brilliantly paced, building up tension until it becomes unbearable to read. I felt like I was right there with Tim and the rest of the group during the ill-fated trip. I was unsettled from page one until I reached the end. The Ascent throws the characters into an awful situation where things just get worse and worse. I loved it. I was riveted. I really don’t understand people who undertake tasks like Tim and his friends. This aspect of the novel was real and all the more terrifying. The killer is not who I expected at all and I was pleasantly surprised. I thought The Ascent was fantastic and would highly recommend it.

RATING

5 STAR RATING

Beneath The Watery Moon

Beneath The Watery Moon

Beneath The Watery Moon by Betsy Reavley
Published by Joffe Books
Ebook
Published 1 February 2014
308 pages
Kindle Owner’s Lending Library

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WHAT’S IT’S ABOUT

Annabel is a troubled young woman trying to put her life back together. She takes a trip to the Suffolk coast to clear her head and get away from her stifling mother. When she arrives in the little seaside town she discovers a series of grisly murders have taken place. Then a fateful meeting with Jude, a fascinating man who lives in a world of faded grandeur, takes her on a journey of self-discovery. Although Jude is supportive and kind, Annabel is not sure whether her feelings for him are reciprocated. Yet she finds some peace in his beautiful country house which shelters other damaged souls. But Jude comes under suspicion from the police, and the idyllic community is threatened. Can Annabel escape her past or is her destiny sealed? And why is she haunted by horrific visions when she seems on the verge of finding love and happiness? This is Betsy Reavley’s astonishing debut novel which will take you on a shattering journey through Annabel’s dreams and nightmares. It contains scenes some readers may find disturbing.

EXTRACT 

It wasn’t always easy being in my head but I knew nothing else. I wasn’t ashamed of my insanity. I didn’t see my diagnosis as something reprehensible. It wasn’t as if I had caught HIV from using dirty needs to shoot up. People aren’t embarrassed to admit they have cancer. My cancer couldn’t be seen. It didn’t require chemo. My cancer was invisible to microscopes. My cancer ate away at my emotions. My cancer was called something else; it was called manic depression.

WHAT I THOUGHT

I really didn’t enjoy Beneath The Watery Moon. I’m a fan of the author and was looking forward to reading this. I find myself wondering what the hell I just read. There are some pretty gruesome torture scenes from about the halfway point of this novel. I’m not squeamish at all but I felt like these were over the top and pointless at times. I don’t need to be hit over the head with a hammer to get the point. For pages and pages there was nothing going on apart from Annabel being tortured. I need a bit more thank you. The book lost any point after several pages of this and became distasteful. The opening sections of Beneath the Watery Moon were really well written with Annabel joining the commune and falling for Jude. I did think he was being set up to be the killer and am glad (sort of) that he’s probably not. Then the author pulls that awful it was just a dream, none of it happened trope and oh dear, Annabel is being tortured and raped every day by a sadist. I felt like I’d read half of two different novels that were stapled together. The latter half of the novel where Annabel is being tortured did not work for me. I felt no connection to Annabel or what was happening. The tone was really weird because it was written in the first person with Annabel’s voice. This didn’t work for me and I wouldn’t recommend it

RATING

2 STAR RATING

Everything But The Truth

Everything But The Truth

NETEverything But The Truth by Gillian McAllister
Published by Penguin
Ebook
Published 9 March 2017
432 pages
NetGalley

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WHAT’S IT’S ABOUT

Just how much can you trust the person you love?

Everything but the Truth is Gillian McAllister’s stunning breakthrough thriller about deceit, betrayal and one woman’s compulsive need to uncover the truth.

It all started with the email.

Rachel didn’t even mean to look. She loves Jack and she’s pregnant with their child. She trusts him.

But now she’s seen it, she can’t undo that moment. Or the chain of events it has set in motion.

Why has Jack been lying about his past? Just what exactly is he hiding? And doesn’t Rachel have a right to know the truth at any cost?

OPENING 

It ended with an accusation I never thought I’d make, thrown across the room at him like a grenade.

WHAT I THOUGHT 

I really enjoyed Everything But The Truth. This is a different sort of thriller than I’m used to and I really liked it. This novel is packed with tension and is quite intense and uncomfortable at times. I wasn’t sure what to expect when I started reading the book. I geared myself up for a run-of-the-mill thriller about someone with dark secrets and got something very different. I thought Rachel was a great character and I loved her voice. I had complete sympathy for her – her quest to uncover the truth after discovering enormous lies was very believable. I would have acted the same way she did. I really didn’t like Jack at times. Given what happened, I understood his motivations but found myself furious with his botched way of handling it and the lies he kept telling Rachel. I wanted to slap him across the face. In the end, when Jack tells Rachel the whole truth my opinion of him completely changed. I thought Everything But The Truth was great. I’d recommend it.

RATING

4 STAR RATING

Here And Gone ARC

Here And Gone ARC

NETHere And Gone by Haylen Beck
Published by Crown Publishing Group
Ebook
Expected publication 20 June 2017
304 pages
NetGalley

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I was given an ARC of this book by the publisher via NetGalley and voluntarily reviewed it.

WHAT’S IT’S ABOUT

Audra has finally left her abusive husband. She’s taken the family car and her young children, Sean and Louise, are buckled up in the back. This is their chance for a fresh start.

Audra keeps to the country roads to avoid attention and finds herself on an empty road in Arizona, far from home. She’s looking for a safe place to stay for the night when she spots something in her rear-view mirror. A police car is following her and the lights are flickering. Blue and red.

As Audra pulls over she is intensely aware of how isolated they are. Her perfect escape is about to turn into a nightmare beyond her imagining…

Dark secrets and a heart-pounding race to reveal the truth lie at the heart of this page-turning thriller.

OPENING 

The road swayed left then right, the rhythm of it making Audra Kinney’s eyelids grow heavier as each mile marker passed. She had given up counting them; it only made the journey slower. Her knuckles complained as she flexed her fingers on the wheel, palms greasy with sweat.

WHAT I THOUGHT 

Here and Gone is a well-paced thriller, full of twists and turns and brilliant misdirection. This is the kind of book you can’t put down. As I read I found myself compelled to read on to find out what the hell was going on and to see the cops get their comeuppance. The novel starts brilliantly, with a seemingly innocent encounter turning brilliantly menacing. My jaw hit the floor! Even though I knew from the start what had happened to Audra’s kids this didn’t spoil the book in any way. The enjoyment was from watching Audra’s gut-wrenching ordeal as she’s demonised and wondering when the cops would finally slip up. I loved the way the novel is paced, getting more and more intense as it rattled towards a very satisfying conclusion. I had a great time with Here and Gone and would recommend it.

RATING

4 STAR RATING