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

And So It Begins – Rachel Abbott

Psychological Thriller
5*s

An entire rug woven with complicated relationships is the best way to describe And So It Begins, the first psychological thriller to be shared from the pen of the hugely talented Rachel Abbott.

Mark, Evie and Cleo (great choice of name) are all too bound up in each other’s lives for any sort of common sense to prevail, and there is a dead wife hovering over Mark’s shoulder to ensure the intensity is driven to the highest level.

But first lets go to where it begins. A phone call from a woman in distress alarms the local Cornish police and so Sergeant Stephanie King races to the impressive house of Mark, or Marcus North. It isn’t the first time she’s been there, last time his wife was found dead, in the basement. This time it is Mark that’s dead and we know who did it, Evie, his girlfriend, the mother of his daughter. She freely admits that’s the case but our tenacious Sergeant wants to know why.

Mark was married to Mia, hence the impressive house, the money was hers. But his sister Cleo didn’t approve, she barely disguised her dislike of Mia who didn’t give Mark the encouragement and praise he deserved (in her eyes) over his photographic genius. Mia died in what is assumed to be a tragic accident having tripped up running downstairs by an undone shoelace – see our mother’s always warned us that this could happen!

While Mark is in the depths of depression after Mia’s death, Evie walks into the gallery managed by Cleo that showcases his art. She wants to commission a series of photos of herself for her father. Cleo seeing an opportunity to make money and raise Mark’s profile insists that he meet with the young woman with connections, and it is from here that we move towards those opening pages.

This story was pleasingly partly set in the courtroom where Evie stands charged either with murder or manslaughter and it is here that we begin to see how the relationship between the three has been based upon secrets and lies.

Rachel Abbott’s books are so satisfying. This is an author who is able to tell a story and one that is relevant to contemporary life. Her characters, as in the previous books, are fully rounded and although I wasn’t particularly a fan of my namesake I can’t deny she was interesting! Great characterisation isn’t just confined to the key protagonists, from the police, to the lawyers and those that only get a brief look in through the story, they are all ‘real’.

There is no doubt that this is an engaging tale and one that I read compulsively, I needed to know if what I believed was the truth at the beginning was actually the truth but as my reading progressed, like all good psychological thrillers, the writer made me change my opinion, time and time again. However this isn’t a book of trickery, you know the type, when you finally turn that last page and contemplate what you’ve read, you feel like the writer has been playing with you. Not Rachel Abbott, the clues were there, no trickery involved, you just need to look at the puzzle through the right prism.

I’d like to say a huge thank you to the author for arranging an advance copy of And So It Begins to be sent to me. This unbiased review is my thanks to her for a hugely absorbing and entertaining read. This is one psychological thriller that you don’t want to miss!

First Published UK:  11 October 2018
Publisher: Wildfire
No of Pages: 416
Genre: Psychological Thriller
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Books I have read

Lies Between Us – Ronnie Turner #BlogTour

Psychological Thriller
4*s

It wouldn’t be overstating things to say I have been very excited to see what fellow book blogger Ronnie Turner would come up with for her debut novel and so I couldn’t have been more delighted to be invited to take part in the blog tour to celebrate its publication on 1 October 2018. I’m pleased to delclare that the result was not what I expected with her creation being more subtle and yet far more satisfying than many offerings in the psychological thriller genre.

Lies Between Us is three stories in one, with each one having a separate narrator. Their tales arouse both sympathy and horror along with firing up my nosiness as the author slowly reveals the secrets and lies that are lurking, sometimes in plain sight.

Miller’s story is downright creepy and begins in his childhood in the 1980s. Miller is the child that everyone avoids. Clearly disturbed he carries around the seven deadly sins in a rucksack on his back. But, as he grows he learns to hide these, not because he wants to be nice but because he knows it will allow him to get exactly what he wants.

In the present, successful writer John is happily married to Jules and they have a beautiful daughter Bonnie then one ordinary day while the two are having a minor tiff in the kitchen, Bonnie disappears. The despair is overwhelming and the police have few clues to pursue but they cling to hope as the kidnapper gives them proof that Bonnie is alive, for now.

Also in the present, Tim is in a coma and as his wife Heidi and young daughter visit daily, Masie the ICU nurse is on the side-lines, efficiently doing her job. Maisie is drawn to Heidi and the two begin a friendship as they sit beside the silent man watching and listening to the endless bleeps of the machines keeping him alive. But, Maisie has her own secrets and she thinks she detects that Heidi does too.

These separate stories were clearly signposted and each one had me enthralled in their own right but of course what I really wanted to know was how they were connected.

It was genuinely hard to believe that this book was the author’s debut novel, it was expertly structured with the pacing even throughout. I didn’t get the feeling that I was on a roller-coaster as I do with many in this genre only to find the final swoop is disappointing compared to the rest of the ride, it wasn’t that type of read which in my mind is to be applauded. Instead there was plenty to interest me not only in each of the narrator’s individual stories, but my mind was kept busy trying to connect the seemingly disparate dots.

Ultimately this is a story of obsession but we also meet love, loss, despair and damage to along the way. The genuine exploration of the effects of these was one of the things I enjoyed most about Lies Between Us. Too often I find, having read a wealth of books in this genre, the pointers to the emotions we have all met in our lives are used to move the story on but when examined in the cold light of day, are revealed as just that, devices. Ronnie Turner in slowing the pacing has allowed us to examine them in more detail and therefore experience them second-hand, with feeling.

First Published UK: 1 October 2018
Publisher: HQ
No of Pages: 384
Genre: Psychological Thriller
Amazon UK

Amazon US – audiobook

Author Bio

Ronnie Turner grew up in Cornwall, the youngest in a large family. At an early age, she discovered a love of literature and dreamed of being a published author. Ronnie now lives in Dorset with her family and three dogs. In her spare time, she reviews books on her blog and enjoys long walks on the coast. She is currently working on her second novel.

Twitter:@Ronnie_ _Turner
Facebook: @RonnieTurnerAuthor
Instagram: @ronnieturner8702
Website: http://www.ronnieturner.wordpress.com
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/RonnieTurner

#LiesBetweenUs #WhereIsBonnie?

Don’t forget to check out the other stops on this blog tour – Ronnie Turner has definitely generated interest with her fellow book bloggers!

Posted in Book Review, Books I have read

The Night She Died – Jenny Blackhurst

Psychological Thriller
4*s

I have read far fewer psychological thrillers in 2018 than previous years and those that I have chosen have been of a high quality with the successful authors using a premise which is a little out of the ordinary. That is exactly what Jenny Blackhurst has done in The Night She Died as she builds on her outstanding success of her previous books in this genre.

Picture the scene of lovely wedding between a happy couple. Move to the next frame and you see a woman in her wedding dress looking over the bay and then she is gone. Below the clifftop she stood on are rocks so the outcome doesn’t look great. And sure enough after that there is no trace of Evie, no body and no one knows quite why, or do they?

Evie White is the bride who disappears, she leaves no note and so her heartbroken groom is left with nothing except unanswered questions. Evie’s best friend is Rebecca and it is obvious to the reader that she knows something, but what it is she is keeping quiet about.

The book is told in two narratives, the past by Evie going back to her childhood to explain the woman she became, and the present, by Rebecca. Rebecca is propping up the groom who became a widower before he had any chance to enjoy his marriage. Unsurprisingly he isn’t coping too well especially as the police are trying to unravel the mystery of Evie’s apparent suicide which inevitably means that Richard finds out about the aspects of Evie’s life that she had kept hidden from him. It probably won’t surprise you to be told that both women are soon revealed to be what could be considered ‘complex characters.’

For those readers who love a tense and imaginative foray, this will be a book that you’ll enjoy and fortunately the author keeps the magic and the surprises coming from the first to the very last page. If I was going to be picky I’d probably state that I’m not sure that the police would expand quite so much energy on a suicide even if they did suspect foul play at the outset but if a book is well written and engaging then I’m prepared to overlook such quibbles.

Jenny Blackhurst hasn’t just come up with a good premise here she follows it through by writing appealing characters. Admittedly both women are complex but there is something appealing about them both and they are real. Most of us have met both an Evie and a Rebecca in our lives and so the author’s obvious investment in her characters pays off. I cared about them both even while trying to work out what had happened to cause Evie to throw herself off the cliff.

The timing is also impeccable. For me the joy of reading a psychological thriller is that hook that keeps you turning the pages. I tend to read this kind of novel faster than other types of books and the author has the format down to a tee. The short chapters the alternating time periods and narrators works so well to keep me turning the pages to find out the next piece of information and has me constantly changing my mind about what is relevant to the plot and what is not.

I’d like to thank the publishers Headline for allowing me to read an advance review copy of The Night She Died, and to Jenny Blackhurst for providing me with a compulsive read!

First Published UK: 6 September 2018
Publisher: Headline
No of Pages: 368
Genre: Psychological Thriller
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Previous Books by Jenny Blackhurst

How I Lost You
Before I Let You In
The Foster Child

Posted in Book Review, Books I have read

When the Lights Go Out – Mary Kubica

Psychological Thriller
3*s

Jessie Sloane is a young woman whose mother has died and for the first time in her life she is on her own. That coming after a long road of caring for her ailing mother which has clearly left its mark on this young woman she decides to pay heed to her mother’s last words to her, ‘to find herself.’

Although I read far fewer psychological thrillers than I have done in recent years I do look out for those with a fresh premise. This one certainly ticked that box with the synopsis advising that Jessie Sloane is a young woman who finds out that her social security details belong to a girl who died seventeen years ago when she was just three. Now I think we can all agree that a discovery like that throws up a whole heap of possibilities for the direction that the novel can take.

I like Mary Kubica’s writing, the setting and the people in all three of her previous books I have read have been carefully crafted giving this reader the feeling that she was truly having an insight into another life for the duration of the book. When the Lights Go Out was no different. While I might have queried the decisions Jessie made, all was easily explicable when considering the combined effects of grief and a lack of sleep.

Alongside Jessie’s story we are taken back in time to read Eden’s too. This is an entirely different tale of a woman who meets the man of her dreams, and then the dream fades to a reality which is acres away from the dream. Of course the reader realises there is a link between these two narratives and each time it seemed that they were going to converge into the answer to the Jessie’s mystery, another piece of information came to dash that idea. All of this meant that the book was full of suspense. I was invested in both characters despite being on my guard knowing that all could not be quite as it appeared and I was therefore hooked to find out what the answers to the mounting questions were.

Sadly despite being hooked by this psychological thriller for the majority of the book but I am afraid the ending just wasn’t for me. I don’t normally mention the endings because some of us enjoy a fairly open ending while others far prefer it when the author displays real skill in tying up loose ends into a neat bow. But the ending for this book deeply disappointed me and I so however much I enjoyed the journey, I can’t get passed that moment.

This means that this is an incredibly hard book for me to review – how do you rate a book that you enjoyed all the way until the final reveal – if only Mary Kubica hadn’t ended this one the way she did the writing and the characters would have earned the full five stars . If you haven’t tried this author I highly recommend her earlier books, but sadly despite Mary Kubica’s obvious talent and her willingness to try something new, which I always applaud, I found this one to be less enjoyable.

I’d like to thank the publishers HQ for allowing me to read an advance review copy of When the Lights Go Out prior to publication of today, 23 August 2018.

First Published UK: 23 August 2018
Publisher: HQ 
No of Pages: 400
Genre: Psychological Thriller
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Previous Books by Mary Kubica

The Good Girl
Pretty Baby
Don’t You Cry
Every Last Lie

Posted in Books I have read, Books I want to Read, Five Star Reads

The Liar’s Room – Simon Lelic

Psychological Thriller
5*s

This is one of those books where you have to hang onto your seat and follow the ride wherever it takes you, and oh my goodness what a ride it is!

Susanna is a counsellor and on the day we meet her she has two new clients to meet. When the first one, Adam Geraghty walks through the door he seems familiar but she can’t work out where she knows him from. And then he starts to talk…

Susanna is probably more on her guard than the average counsellor because she has a deep and dark secret. The type of secret that is worth saying goodbye to her old life, and starting somewhere else with a brand new identity, all evidence of the past covered over. So now she leads a narrow life which consists of her, and her daughter Emily who is now fourteen years old. Susanna loves Emily and sees her role in life, above all others to keep her safe.

So much of this novel is the conversation between counsellor and counselled which gives the book an incredibly claustrophobic feel. The dialogue between the two is captivating and made all the more so because we know Susanna has something she is trying to hide, but what it is and why she needs to keep it quiet is eked out in a way that had this reader conjuring up different scenarios, most widely off-beam. On one level it is fascinating to watch the game that is being played out in front of our eyes. The weighing up of options on the one hand with the absolute determination to keep the upper hand on the other gives us an immediate view of how liars operate which felt quite unlike anything else in the genre. Yes we often come across manipulative characters and we even see them in full flow but to have an entire book that is based upon a sustained conversation is very unusual indeed.

Although some of the themes have quite naturally been explored by other writers, this is an author so sure of his penmanship that the reader is left to draw their own conclusions to what these might be and he doesn’t go down the well-worn path of what is often trodden by writers in this genre; prepare to be surprised.

The Liar’s Room is clever, very clever. Yes, once I got quite a way into the book, I was able to discern some of what had either happened, was happening or would happen, but I was a long way off the entirety of the answers to all the myriad of questions. This is both spell-binding and compelling and terrifically well written and has firmly cemented Simon Lelic as an outstanding writer. I was already a fan having read and loved The Child Who and more recently The House, and The Liar’s Room has just added to my admiration of an author who can create some basically unlikeable characters but with enough credibility to keeping it real which meant that I couldn’t feel a bit of sympathy for them on at least on some level.

This would undoubtedly be a terrific book club read which I’m sure would provoke some lively discussion because of the strong reactions it is bound create.

I’d like to say a huge thank you to the publishers Penguin who allowed me to read a copy of The Liar’s Room ahead of publication in paperback on 9 August 2018. Thank you also to Simon Lelic for keeping me up way past my bedtime in order to find out what happened, and then later still as I pondered what I had just read.

First Published UK: 28 July 2018
Publisher: Penguin 
No of Pages: 352
Genre: Psychological Thriller
Amazon UK
Amazon US

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

Little Liar – Lisa Ballantyne

Psychological Thriller
5*s

I can’t resist an author that pushes the boundaries of their readers beliefs and Lisa Ballantyne is prepared to do just that in Little Liar.

The premise is quite straightforward. Upstanding businessman Nick Dean is at home when his life is ripped apart when the police come to his door and accuse him of inappropriate touching of young girl. And this girl is young, just twelve years old. She is part of a group he is teaching drama to at a local school. Nick Dean also has a wife and two children so the consequences of the accusation rock every facet of his life.

Angela Furness is the girl who has stated that Nick Dean inappropriately touched her. He did so behind the stage when he asked her to help with some equipment. She was too shocked to do anything at the time… There seems to be no reason for her to make anything up, sure she’s angry, she’s been violent at school but could this explain why?

The opening scene of the book is a fight between Angela and another girl called Jasmine. She’s no longer the keen child she was when she moved from primary to secondary school but in the intervening period her parents have split up, she’s a little girl angry at the world. Is she ripe for exploitation too?

Lisa Ballantyne is one of the ‘brave’ authors who challenge the orthodox views on subjects. I initially became a fan on reading The Guilty One which has the premise of one child killing another, one of the most inflammatory storylines you could choose and yet she wrote a thoughtful novel that challenges the masses to think about the story behind the headlines and appreciate the tragedy in its entirety and not from only one perspective. She works a similar feat within Little Liar. There is doubt about Angela’s story, she’s not painted as an appealing child but the reader is fully aware that at just twelve  she can’t be considered  on a par with a predatory adult. Nick’s story isn’t clear cut either. During any police investigation of this nature, secrets are bound to be unearthed, and some of those secrets may be hard for the friends and relations to handle. His guilt, or innocence, is up for judgement, have no qualms about that – you will judge and maybe your views will change with the evidence, maybe they won’t.

With both Nick and Angela under the microscope as the accusation seeps into their life it is natural that the wider family becomes involved. What happens if part of the family believes in your guilt and the others don’t. Well one thing for sure in fiction it tends to raise the tension to unbeatable levels. I needed to know the answer, and also what life would look like for all those we met along the journey.

With superb characterisation alongside the fearless nature of the twists and turns the author takes us through, this book was gripping with a capital G. The subject matter is a tough one but the author handles it sensitively, there aren’t graphic scenes of abuse but there is a real connection of the range of emotions that those at the centre, and on the side-lines, experience. Most of all this is a book that will make you think!

I’d like to thank the publisher Piatkus for allowing me to read a copy of Little Liar prior to publication in eBook format on 2 August 2018 and in paperback on 21 February 2019.

First Published UK: 2 August 2018
Publisher: Piatkus
No of Pages: 368
Genre: Psychological Thriller
Amazon UK
Amazon US

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

Open Your Eyes – Paula Daly

Psychological Thriller
5*s

Here is an author that can start her latest book with a seemingly mundane argument, one of the kind that many married couples have, and yet for all its familiarity, I was instantly pulled into the story. Jane and Leon Campbell are off to his mother’s to celebrate his birthday. Both are tetchy; Leon because he’d rather spend his birthday doing what he wants to do and Jane because having to visit his mother for his birthday is somehow her fault. Put two young children, a car journey and a declined manuscript, her sixth, into the mix and it is easy to get the picture. So far so predictable as is the opposite neighbour’s untimely moan about an ongoing neighbourhood niggle. Jane is relieved when she can return to the house to pick up the forgotten beer while the disagreement rumbles on taking a deep breath before returning to the car. By the time she returns, this is no longer a normal day, it is one of the worst days of their lives.

I won’t say anything further about the plot because all of the above happens upfront, what comes next is thrilling, baffling and at times almost incomprehensible. How can such devastation occur out of the blue. To Jane, to Leon, to his brilliantly portrayed mother and sister, and to his two children. Life will never be quite the same again. Paula Daly has painted her supporting cast in equally bright characters from the Police who visit and tries and fails to be comforting, to the circle of friends that are most supportive but balk at revealing the secrets that they know Leon has concealed from Jane. Their actions, dialogue and interactions are all totally believable.

If all the excitement about what happens to Leon, why the police are involved, what they find and plenty more ‘whats’ besides, isn’t enough it should be noted that the couple are authors; Leon Campbell a well-known crime thriller writer while Jane is an aspiring women’s fiction. Leon has been very supportive of Jane in her quest to be published even if he does use his writing to get out of the many mundane jobs that are part and parcel of parenthood. Readers will be pleased to know that the fact he is an author is woven throughout the plot and what us readers love more than anything, is reading about books. So it’s a winner all around.

All I can say is that Paula Daly has done it again, by which I mean take an everyday event and transform it into the most gripping of reads. I will confess, despite having visitors this book was barely out of reach and I snatched it up at each and every opportunity. I anticipated another pure read of entertainment, and I got that in spades, but below the fast-paced thrills there is also a strong vein of truth of not just the emotional consequences of serious injury but the ongoing change to the person and those who are part of their lives.

Open Your Eyes is a psychological thriller that stands out from the crowd, perhaps because the characters are far from dislikeable, but you will have to be on the ball to work out the truth of the seemingly unsolvable puzzle. Even better I let out a pleased and satisfied sigh at the ending.

I’d like to thank the publisher Random House UK for allowing me to read a copy of Open Your Eyes prior to publication on 26 July 2018, and to Paula Daly for the rollercoaster ride.

First Published UK: 26 July 2018
Publisher: Random House UK
No of Pages: 400
Genre: Psychological Thriller
Amazon UK
Amazon US

 

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

Take Me In – Sabine Durrant

Psychological Thriller
5*s

Oh my this is a great summer read which starts with a holiday in Greece!

Marcus and Tess are on holiday, their marriage is a little bit rocky and the place they are staying in isn’t quite what they’d imagined but they do the British thing and dig deep and put on the best face for the sake of their three-year old son, Toby.

Picture the scene, they are on the beach, anyone who’s holidayed with a young child knows that sentence covers lots of preparation with lots to carry before you can even begin to relax. Tess pops off the beach to get changed and by the time she returns back Toby is in the water, face down. Sabine Durrant captures the scene all too well. The panic, horror and worst case scenarios were racing through my mind just as they did his parents from the stuttering view we get as the scene is viewed through their eyes. Sabine Durrant does so much by allowing the reader to fill in the gaps and by giving us the prompts and the space to absorb them this really was one of those scenes that became uncomfortably vivid.

With each chapter told from alternate points of view between Marcus and Tess we learn a lot about them both in the best way because we can’t help but see how they view themselves and what they really think of their other halves.

But back to Toby and the scary moment. Fortunately for them all there is a rescuer in the shape of Dave Jepson. A man holidaying with his own family he swam out to Toby and brought him back to shore. What this story does is eloquently expresses how a traumatic event can have lasting repercussions. In the normal narrative, the scary moment is over, everyone is relieved and life carries on but really it doesn’t. Even more so in this book because after the rescue, and a thank you meal, Marcus and Tessa can’t dislodge Dave from their lives. He keeps popping up and if that wasn’t bad enough for the remainder of the holiday, it becomes a whole lot worse on their return to the UK.

Of course even with the trauma Dave would not have made so many ripples if Marcus wasn’t taking risks in his business life and Tessa didn’t have secrets she most certainly didn’t want to be exposed. All of which makes for a reading experience that is very much like watching a slow motion car crash and then just as you think things can’t get any worse, or our couple can’t make a more stupid decision, it does and they do. When I say the tension rises, it does so almost imperceptibly at first until you turn the page and realise that your heart is pounding!

The characterisation is great, particularly Marcus and Tessa and the book wouldn’t have been so enjoyable if the author hadn’t pitched them as she has. Neither are outright unpleasant but they both do have traits of selfishness, smugness and a sense of entitlement but that’s not so unusual so in short, they are normal people living lives much like you or I or those you know and yet everything changed for them with one visit to the beach.

I love it when a book starts with a killer sentence to pull you in but what will stay with me with this book is the statement at the end… which is actually the underlying story condensed into something I haven’t been able to stop pondering since I finished reading Take Me In.

I’d like to thank the publisher Mulholland Books for allowing me to read a copy of Take Me In, something I was keen to do after having thoroughly enjoyed Sabine Durrant’s previous books. If by some chance you haven’t discovered her yet, you’re missing out.

First Published UK: 28 June 2018
Publisher: Mulholland Books
No of Pages: 352
Genre: Psychological Thriller
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Psychological thrillers by Sabine Durrant
Under Your Skin
Remember Me This Way
Lie With Me

Posted in Book Review, Books I have read

The Death of Mrs Westaway – Ruth Ware

Psychological Thriller
4*s

Well that was a creepy read! It is odd but somehow I always associate the creepy aspect with historical novels, after all we are too aware of the present in modern times to get spooked by an old crumbling house complete with scary housekeeper, aren’t we?

Ruth Ware is one of those writers who really knows how to create an atmosphere and so even though the greater part of this book is set in the present and that in the past only dates back to 1995, I was drawn into a world of the improbable with barely a question.

Hal (Harriet) Westaway is broke. Not the sort of broke that afflicts most twenty-somethings on a regular basis but the sort that means she is in danger of losing the only home she’s ever known, and perhaps not without damage since she’s in hock to a loan shark. She returns home one night to find a letter, one from said loan shark (or one of his mates) and one from a solicitor in Penzance who claims to have a bequest from her Grandmother who has recently died. Only problem is that Hal’s grandmother wasn’t Hester Westaway and she certainly didn’t live at Trepassen House before she died.

Of course we take a trip to Trepassen House for ourselves and find a property that is almost a character in its own right. It’s the full gothic experience complete with barred windows and secret messages and of course the very creepy housekeeper. Not quite what Hal is used to. Ok she may be in dire straits money wise but she plies her trade in reading Tarot cards on Brighton pier and her home is the only one she’s ever known. That’s not to say Ruth Ware doesn’t impress on her readers the difference of this seaside pier in the winter time, having its very own atmosphere. Safe to say she’s slightly out of her depth in this situation. Hal’s mother died and it’s her business Hal has inherited but her mother wasn’t one to mince her words, always reminding Hal:

Don’t fall into the trap of believing your own lies.

This story despite obviously being set in the present, something the author embraces rather than tries to disguise, has an old-fashioned quality to it. The sense of danger is only all too imaginable when you put yourself in the shoes of a young woman with no money even if she is someone who is not an out-and-out innocent. Normally I find myself getting highly irritated by characters who do stupid things – I’m sat tutting and shaking my head saying ‘well what did you think was going to happen?’ but somehow this author had me bought into the storyline so that, under the circumstances, the decisions seemed plausible. There are shades of Daphne Du Maurier and Patricia Highsmith but fear not this story is an original.

I can’t leave this review without stating quite how brilliantly Hal is portrayed. This definitely isn’t a one-dimensional character, she is made of shades of grey with all the complexities that real people have, something she is never more aware of than when she is reading the tarot cards for her eager audiences.

I highly recommend this book which is perhaps more suited to an autumnal evening with the rain lashing down, but fear not, I was chilled despite lying in the sunshine devouring every last word of this masterpiece.

I’d like to say a huge thank you to the publishers Random House UK who allowed me to read an advance copy of The Death of Mrs Westaway which is published today. This unbiased review is my thanks to them and of course Ruth Ware for the thoroughly entertaining read.

First Published UK: 28 June 2018
Publisher: Random House UK
No of Pages: 400
Genre: Psychological Thriller
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Posted in Book Review, Books I have read

The House Swap – Rebecca Fleet

Psychological Thriller
4*s

Now the thought of strangers staying in my house when I’m not there isn’t one that appeals on any level but for Caroline and therapist husband Francis the house swap gives them an opportunity to take a cheap break in Chiswick, close to London. So they make a folder of important information and leave their Leeds apartment to be enjoyed by a stranger in their absence.

Francis and Caroline leave their young son Eddie with her mother and drive to Chiswick and the boxy house which will become their base for exploring museums and the like in the big city for the next week. As they walk inside the lack of personal possessions is immediately apparent. Who’d live in a house like this?

This is a domestic thriller and as such a portrait of a marriage under an enormous amount of strain. Francis has suffered with an unspecified addiction while Caroline, the breadwinner, cook, bottle washer and parent, eventually snaps and starts a lurid affair with a younger colleague. The affair is hot, as are both Caroline and Carl, her paramour and the sections of the book set in the past are full of sex and the excitement of new passion. Caroline believes the lies she tells herself and her enjoyment of the attention in contrast to her empty marriage is very well done. But all this is in the past, two years before the trip away. So when Caroline notices things that remind her of times passed and she becomes spooked, as you would.

This is a good debut novel although not suitable for those readers who need to like or admire the characters. I would have liked to know more about the background to Francis’s addiction but as The House Swap is mostly told from Caroline’s point of view, we hear her thoughts on him but little of what makes him tick (when he’s not out of it on whatever pills he’s addicted to) In fact the woman who seemed most ‘real’ was the intense neighbour but that is probably because we know Caroline is hiding, from herself as much as Francis.

What The House Swap does really well is to shine a spotlight on how one person’s behaviour can cause a ripple effect, and it does it well. It’s also a lesson in how lack of communication can cause huge issues that can’t be overcome without a level of trust.

Caroline has only just made herself at home before a neighbour introduces herself and becomes a little bit keen to spend time with her which is just odd considering she’s only staying for a week.

There is plenty of intrigue that kept me turning the pages of this novel which is the ideal beach read. After all we all like to peek behind someone else’s curtains, even if the thought of the favour being returned makes us recoil in horror. The plotting is accomplished so even though I could think of various ways the storyline could play out, I wasn’t right in any aspect at all.

I’d like to thank the publishers Transworld who allowed to me read a copy of The House Swap before publication on 3 May 2018. This unbiased review is my thanks to them and Rebecca Fleet for an entertaining read.

First Published UK: 3 May 2018
Publisher:Transworld
No of Pages: 320
Genre: Psychological Thriller
Amazon UK
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