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

Everything But The Truth – Gillian McAllister

Psychological Thriller
5*s

Everything But The Truth is a psychological thriller but not of the ilk that you might be expecting from the genre. This superb read is a quieter more thoughtful book with moral dilemmas at its heart rather than the fast paced action packed books that is now the norm for books marketed under this heading. That doesn’t mean this book isn’t gripping, far from it!

Rachel is pregnant, one that wasn’t planned, well there was hardly enough time for that in her new relationship with Jack, but the pregnancy isn’t a disaster, both are thrilled about the baby on the way and Rachel is delighted to have found ‘the one.’ Rachel works in a law firm as an administrator having left her job as a paediatric doctor while Jack is working as a journalist in Newcastle having moved for a temporary role from his hometown of Oban. All is going well although the couple have yet to move in together in readiness for the forthcoming baby.

Then late one night Jack’s iPad lights up and half-asleep Rachel reads the email sent which mentions an event that she knows nothing about. Rachel begins to wonder how well she knows Jack especially when the short reply he gives the next morning, isn’t wholly convincing.

The book then follows Rachel and Jack forward from this moment where Rachel is determined to find out the truth whatever the cost, but is she right to keep digging? And what is she going to do if she ever finds out? We also see what Rachel’s life was like before Jack, when she was working I the hospital, this strand takes a while before the relevance of this becomes clear, but all is revealed later Beyond that I can’t say anything about the plot because I don’t want to spoil it for anyone else.

There is no doubt that Gillian McAllister knows how to weave a tale that is complex and has space built into the narrative that allows the reader to put themselves into the character’s shoes, and yes to make judgements on that tricky morality scale. All the characters are exceptionally well drawn, Rachel and Jack behave in ways that felt absolutely realistic, but so do the secondary characters who are varied and memorable in their own right. I often think that social situations are the hardest to transfer to the page, after all those family walks where in reality no-one says anything particularly scintillating are rarely found in books, but when Jack and Rachel went for a walk with Jack’s parents and brother, it was an evocative scene full of Scottish mist with convincing everyday ordinariness.

One of the strands of Everything But The Truth linked to a personal experience of mine which meant that this is one of those magical books that really ‘spoke to me’ . In this part I had predicted the outcome, but that made it no less devastating to read the words I didn’t want to see on the page. Yes, this book had me sobbing, but it also entertained me, made me think and painted a picture of a young couple that imprinted themselves onto my memory. I won’t forget this book in a long while it had that big an impact on me. There is so much packed into this book that I really do think that there are going to be few readers that are not drawn into some aspect of this clever, fresh-feeling addition to the genre.

I was lucky enough to receive an advance copy of this book for review purposes from Penguin Books and this honest review is my thanks to them.

First Published UK: 9 March 2017
Publisher: Penguin
No of Pages: 420
Genre: Psychological Thriller
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Posted in Book Review, Books I have read

Chosen Child – Linda Huber

Psychological Thriller 4*s
Psychological Thriller
4*s

I was delighted to be offered a copy of this book by the author saying “I’m asking you because this one has a similar ‘feel’ to The Cold Cold Sea. It’s another psychological thriller, about a couple who are in the process of adopting a child, but things aren’t all what they seem…” My interest was piqued having thoroughly enjoyed The Cold Cold Sea.

This book gets into its cracking pace early on, in fact soon after Rick and Ella attend an adoption party to meet children who are ready to be adopted. Things aren’t straightforward though, Rick has fixed ideas on the type of child he wants to adopt; a young white boy without any health issues whereas Ella is hoping to find a child she feels that magical connection with. Adoption isn’t an easy process to go through and Ella is desperate to keep their social worker Linda on side and it doesn’t take much imagination to imagine the stress the couple are under.

Meanwhile Amanda Waters, mother to young Jaden is in a bit of dilemma, she’s bored within her marriage and yet her method of alleviating the boredom has resulted in consequences which she hadn’t bargained for… and then Amanda’s husband goes missing, setting off a chain of event which threaten everything she holds dear.

This isn’t your average psychological thriller where the terror slowly builds, I could only watch horrified as some, but in no means all, of the ramifications of decisions made early on came to pass. It is an original take on what appears to be two fairly familiar stories but the way in which the two become intertwined yet still remaining clear and separate is something I could only marvel at. This is helped by the clear and believable characters that have been created even if some of the decisions were questionable I could square them with the circumstances.

This was a gripping tale with the pace fast and furious, yet remaining clear because we get both Ella’s and Amanda’s stories with minimal navel gazing as they grapple with the way their lives are turning out. The alternate viewpoints clearly marked with the day each chapter refers to (thankfully all moving in a linear fashion) means this was one of those books where ‘one more chapter, after all they are short’ turned into marathon reads as I wanted to know what on earth was going to happen next! Both women have moral dilemmas and don’t always act with the principles you’d hope mothers would, but hey there wouldn’t be much of a story if they did! I have to admit my feelings about both women altered backwards and forwards through the book, a sign that the author had real control over them and was able to reveal or hide aspects of their personalities to suit the current chapter.

This was a hugely enjoyable read, entertaining and one where you need to buckle in and just enjoy the ride – be warned it may take you to entirely unexpected places.

Chosen Child will be published on 15 February 2016 and is available at a bargain price!