Posted in Book Review, Books I have read, Five Star Reads

The Game Changer – Louise Phillips

Psychological Thriller 5*s
Psychological Thriller

I am a huge fan of Louise Phillips and so I was delighted to be given a review copy of The Game Changer by her publishers, Hachette Ireland. This is the fourth in the series featuring criminal psychologist Kate Pearson.Kate Pearson really is the staring character of this novel, despite having decided to take a break from working with the police after her last case. Kate is now spending more time with her son Charlie and enjoying a domestic partnership, without the complications of work, with DI O’Connor, and as the book opens in Dublin we get the feeling that life is on the up for Kate.

Of course this isn’t going to last, and following an anonymous note Kate begins digging into her own past, to a time when she was abducted, a time that she is simply unable to recall. Meanwhile DI O’Connor working to confirm whether the recent death of a retired headmaster is a suicide, he is contacted by Detective Lee Fisher in New York about a gruesome murder there – it appears that there is a link with the dead man. Lee Fisher is an excellent addition to the characters we have come to know and love from the previous books, I’m hoping we are going to meet him again in the future.

I am fascinated by the way memory works so the element of the book that concentrates on the blanks in Kate’s past were always going to be a winner as far as I am concerned, and Louise Phillips deals with this subject in a realistic way; there is no magic key that suddenly brings the past back to life, but that’s not to say that the lack of memory means that the pieces of the puzzle can’t be put together again. To do this Kate needs to start retracing her childhood steps, to talk to her former neighbours and to start writing down what she is certain are facts. These facts lead Kate in many directions all while she is becoming increasingly paranoid that she is being watched. Is her mind playing more tricks on her?

There is such a lot packed into this book including the device where the reader is treated to words from the killer, a risky step for an author to take although I’m pleased to confirm that their identity remains a mystery. Our killer treats us to their chilling ‘20 Steps to Self-enlightenment Programme’ which even the most sheltered of readers will be able to identify with the behaviour of leaders of cults. We soon meet some of the ‘Game Changers’ recruits, chilling not only because of the experiences that have made the 20 steps appealing, but because we know that this decision isn’t likely to end well. To back up how realistic the manipulation of a group can be, we are treated to the tragedies caused by this type of leadership, with references to both the murders committed by Charles Manson and the Jonestown massacre.

So we have cross jurisdictional murder, missing memories and a cult all interweaved to create an exceptional in-depth psychological thriller and not only that but it is well-written and features a couple of likeable investigators. If that wasn’t enough it is published today, 3 September 2015 so why don’t you go and get yourself a copy?

If you haven’t already read them I highly recommend the previous books featuring Kate Pearson:

Red Ribbons
The Doll’s House
The Last Kiss

Posted in Book Review, Books I have read

The Doll’s House – Louise Phillips

Crime Fiction 4*'s
Crime Fiction

So here is my review for the first of the books named The Doll’s House.  I chose this book by Louise Phillips for my holiday reading as I’d been really impressed with Red Ribbons  which I read earlier this year.  I didn’t find this as outstanding as the debut but Louise Phillips again demonstrates her ability to weave a cracking good tale.  Following on from Red Ribbons we catch up with Kate Pearson, who is a criminal psychologist who again called in to work with Detective Inspector O’Connor.

Set in Ireland this tale, like her debut, is told from multiple viewpoints of Kate Pearson, Clodagh McKay and the shadowy figure of the murderer himself.  Personally I found Clodagh’s story by far the most interesting and engaging of the book.  Clodagh is the mother of a teenage daughter, has a marriage which has all but dissolved, and a drink problem. Crucially she is the owner of the Doll’s House.

The story begins with the murder of the presenter of a TV show which allows members of the public to air their dirty laundry in exchange for five minutes of fame on daytime TV (yes you know the type) and it is presumed that he will have made a few enemies along the way.  Within pages another body is added to the pile….

One of the aspects of this book which I enjoyed the most was the uncovering of memories. Clodagh visits a hypnotist to try and remember key events in her childhood while Kate, as if she wasn’t busy enough, is trying to help an anorexic girl in her practice who suffers from memory gaps.  This added another dimension to the puzzle of the motive and perpetrator of the murders as I willed Clodagh to remember what had really happened all those years before.  Themes of memories and the effects childhood trauma run throughout the book as Clodagh fights to find out what is being kept from her along with the reasons for the truth being withheld.

In conclusion an absorbing read although I found it a little off-putting that Clodagh appeared to believe that the dolls knew the answers despite realising that this was the device used to uncover those shadowy events of childhood!

To see my review of Red Ribbons please click the book cover.

Red Ribbons