Posted in Book Review, Books I have read

A Fractured Winter – Alison Baillie

Psychological Fiction 4*s


It’s 2015 and winter when the best friend of Olivia’s daughter goes missing. The girls are only young but in keeping with the culture they walk to and from school together. They went to school after having their break for lunch at home but Lara has a confusing message, apparently her best friend Sandra has a new friend and was meeting them instead. Sandra has disappeared into the air.

Olivia was already preoccupied by the thought her past inEdinburgh was coming back to haunt her because someone had left a note, signalling that someone, somewhere, knows she has something to hide.

Back in 1984 Marie is a lonely child with a religious mother and a volatile father. Marie bides her time, pretty much friendless and out of step with her peers, her parents being older and poorer than theirs and as she grows she is determined to escape her home and go to university. But all that changes when she reaches the age of sixteen and finds something out that changes everything.

I really enjoyed this authors debut novel Sewing the Shadows Together, her portrayal of Portobello in Edinburgh was so evocative and the past present angle convincingly portrayed. I’m so pleased to report that the author did equally well in bringing Switzerland to life. The insertion of their customs, such as the primary school children returning for lunch added to the feeling that we ‘knew’ the characters. This is an author that can convincingly switch between time periods as well as places.  Just as well really because in 1998 we meet naïve Lucy Sheridan who is at university who meets a handsome young man…  

As for the mystery in Switzerland, by its very nature that was fast and furious. We end up with two missing girls to track down, precious few clues that the police were willing to take seriously. With her teenage son and her new husband at loggerheads life for Olivia was hardly going along swimmingly and although I suspect that her constant doubting of herself was a useful device for allowing the readers to share her thoughts, personally I found her a little tiresome.  But don’t forget we have a mystery girl in the 1980s to tie into a story where she doesn’t seem to have a spot, or does she? This is a book for those with inquisitive minds who are prepared to wait for the storyline to play out.

I’ve categorised this as a psychological thriller but it reallyis a blend of genres and without the mystery of the missing girls which isn’t quiteas central to the storyline as I expected, it could easily have been on thewoman’s fiction shelf of the more robust variety. That said there were plentyof mysteries past and present to be unravelled and a few characters whose personalitiesdefinitely belong in the psychological section, all of which had me flickingthrough the pages at a rate of knots to find out what was going to happen next.

First Published UK: 9 April  2018
Publisher: Williams & Whiting
No of Pages: 366
Genre: Psychological Thriller
Amazon UK
Amazon US


Posted in Book Review, Books I have read

The Liar’s Wife – Samantha Hayes

Psychological Thriller
3*s

As I recently mentioned I’ve read far fewer psychological thrillers than usual in 2018 but occasionally a book, or author has come across my radar that begs to be picked up. The Liar’s Wife was one such book; I’ve read previous books by this author, her earlier books being published long before this genre burst into popularity.

And The Liar’s Wife has a premise that you know is going to prove to be a gripping one if only to work out what on earth everyone’s motivation is!

Ella works on promotional films and one night after working a little later, as usual refusing to go for a drink with her colleagues, she gets on her bike to go home. On the way a van clips her bike and she hits the ground. The van driver, as she finds out later speeds off and an ambulance is called to take Ella to hospital.

Ella wakes from a coma to a nurse saying that her husband is on his way to visit her but Ella doesn’t have a husband. However unlike any normal person even when Ella is on the road to recovery she doesn’t tell the nurses who are devoted to her, who this man is. No she keeps quiet and lets him take her home to his house in a gated community. The thing is you see is Ella knows who the man is and keeping quiet is a far better option than that secret being exposed.

The story is full of suspense with the twists and turns kept to the right number, enough to allow the reader to get swept up in the story but not so many that the reader gets that travel sickness feeling as the road ahead is switched backwards and forwards before you’ve got your bearings.

Samantha Hayes knows how to write a good story, the tone is right with the dialogue perfectly pitched (one of my biggest gripes is that the villains in these stories often do little more than menace and grunt while their supposed charm would raise the red flags at an alarming rate of knots). I’d like to stress just how well the author recreated married life for Ella once she was at ‘home’ and the scenes were right up there on the creepy scale and I was absolutely on the edge of my seat for these. And then it all tipped over into the unrealistic territory which was a great shame as my enthusiasm then waned somewhat before the ending. That said, I will stress that part of my ‘problem’ with the genre is the number of books I have read within it. I know that if my brain starts flashing ‘I can’t believe that would happen’ types of warnings that no matter how good the author is, I’m unlikely to buy into anything else and of course what I find unbelievable won’t necessarily apply to the next person.

So if you really do enjoy a fast-moving and well-written psychological thriller The Liar’s Wife has a lot to offer.

I’d like to thank the publishers Bookouture for allowing me to read a copy of The Liar’s Wife before publication later this week on 22 November 2018. This unbiased review is my thanks to them.

First Published UK: 22 November 2018
Publisher: Bookouture
No of Pages: 372
Genre: Psychological Thriller
Amazon UK
Amazon US

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

The Lies We Told – Camilla Way

Psychological Thriller
5*s

Having somewhat overdosed on psychological thrillers during the last few years I vowed to cut down during 2018 and it’s one of the few bookish resolutions that I’ve kept, but… and there is always a but; I started to miss the rollercoaster ride that this sub-genre produces so well and I so I treated myself to a copy of a book by an author who’d previously wowed me with her book Watching Edie.

If anything The Lies We Told was even better!

The opening scene is that of a young mother who finds the corpse of the family budgie – the killer is her young daughter Hannah. But that is all in the past and the dangerous daughter is left behind while we move to Clara’s story in the present.

Clara lives a ‘normal’ life. She’s happy, a working woman with a lovely boyfriend who she’s planning to move in with when he suddenly disappears. Clara does all the normal things: checks with his friends, drives down to see his family and looks in pockets & drawers to try to find clues, but there are none. What Clara does find, of course she does, that Luke wasn’t quite the man she thought he was.
Some things are excusable though, Luke’s sister Emily had disappeared without a trace some twenty years ago. From the little Clara knows this caused untold anguish certainly to Luke’s parents, Oliver and Rose Lawson, and to a lesser extent to Luke and his brother Tom who were all left to wonder what had happened to Emily.

This is a classic psychological thriller. We have a mixture of characters, all nicely distinct and most with a little bit of good, and a little bit of bad inside them – half the fun of this genre is to work out as you are reading how the stresses of the story, and this one has enough tension to make you feel like you are walking on a high wire, are influencing your view of their actions. After all if your boyfriend went missing and then you found out that he wasn’t quite the Mr Perfect you thought he was would you cut your losses there and then, or would you feel that you had to help in any way possible to help his family find out what has happened – even if that means keeping the biggest secret of all, that Emily has returned?

The story rattles along, the psychopathic child inserting herself into the story line at regular intervals even though there is no obvious place for her – has she completely transformed? Surely not, this is a psychological thriller after all and that means that scary bad personality traits only go in one direction, yes to even more dark and scary places!

Camilla Way is the absolute best at pulling all the seemingly disparate strands together and although I confess I had worked out some elements given some well-placed clues, I was still a mile from the whole truth. The ending was perfect, not quite the resolution the reader might expect but satisfying enough to allow this one to close the book with a smile.

First Published UK: 3 May 2018
Publisher: HarperCollins
No of Pages: 385
Genre: Psychological Thriller
Amazon UK
Amazon US

 

Posted in Book Review, Books I have read

The Golden Child – Wendy James

Psychological Thriller
4*s

I was already a fan of Australian, Wendy James’s writing before this book, her ability to take such a wide variety of subjects from historical fiction at the turn of the twentieth century in Out of the Silence to a married woman’s downfall when past mistakes come to haunt her in The Mistake, amazed me. In The Golden Child there is no looking back, this is life in the twenty-first century a world where social media has transformed the life of those growing up with it.

Beth Mahonny is an Australian national living in the US because of her husband’s job, she hasn’t been back to live permanently since her daughters were born and unable to work under US rules, she blogs. She was quite a revolutionary when she started but by the time the book opens the world of blogging is now far more cut-throat than the light-hearted posts Liz writes on her ex-pat lifestyle but she has her followers who either gee her up or put her down.

One of my favourite parts of this book were the different commenters comments – their personalities shining through and could be taken as a random selection from any social media posts across the world and genres. It is so nice when the authors add the little touches into their books!

Beth is mother to Lucy and Charlotte, loving wife and now in charge of the project to move the family from the US back to Australia, and back to the bosom of the Mahonny family. Still Beth throws herself into the task with gusto and the reader an observe the gap between the reality of the move and the peek behind the curtain that she gives her followers. The girls get into a prestigious school and it is there that Beth meets Andi Pennington mother to a baby and older daughter, Sophie a brilliant musician who is in Charlotte’s class. But Charlotte at just twelve is positioning herself to be one of the shiny popular girls, and Sophie has no friends in school. Any relationship born out of the friendship of their mothers doesn’t change that and Charlotte isn’t moved to transfer any of the commonality they find out of school into the classroom. And then disturbing content is posted on social media and Sophie takes an overdose.

This is the type of story that will make any parent of adolescents run cold, a book that shows that in the bid to find their place in life can ruin a life forever. The shiny popular girls needing to hold their position in life, their victims trying to ignore the spitefulness all creates a powder keg that goes home with them at night in these days of the internet.

There are a lot of interesting debates around all sorts of aspects of mothering. These questions and their lack of solid answers I suspect will be eternal although it is interesting to view the different many ways even here that relative strangers can have their say which I guess just underlines the need for parents to somehow learn and teach their children how to cope with the pressure of social media.

This was a fascinating read and one where I felt empathy for most of the characters but the problem always with such ‘issue’ books is that I feel that in the need to create a story that perhaps the characters are somewhat side-lined and become a little stereotypical; it is no surprise that Sophie is fat for instance, but that aside I think this raises a lot of questions and would certainly make for a lively book club read.

First Published UK: 16 October 2018
Publisher: HarperCollins
No of Pages: 352
Genre: Psychological Thriller
Amazon UK
Amazon US

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

The Stranger Diaries – Elly Griffiths

Psychological Thriller
5*s

What an absolutely fantastic book, the perfect autumnal read in, this a creepy psychological thriller, a standalone book by the very talented Elly Griffiths.

I’m a typical book lover so an author who inserts a book inside a book is onto a good thing. Even better if you do as Elly Griffiths has, and insert a fictional Victorian gothic thriller into a modern crime thriller book.

Clare Cassidy is an English Literature teacher at Talgarth High, a modern building annexed onto Holland House the last residence of the famous author R.M. Holland. Even before Clare went to teach at the school she was a fan of R.M. Holland’s writing but having access to his untouched study has only increased her interest and she’s planning to write a biography about him. In her day job, which includes adult creative writing lessons, she uses his text The Stranger to lead and inspire her classes. Then a close friend, another teacher is found murdered and it seems that the murderer is also a fan of our Victorian writer as a quote from The Stranger is found by the body.

I really can’t stress how brilliantly Elly Griffiths has fused the old and the new in this novel because she doesn’t appear to use any novel techniques; the book open s with the start of the gothic thriller with other excerpts appearing throughout the book, but somehow even with references to ghosts and the strangeness of the supernatural, I was so completely immersed in the book that I pretty much unquestionably believed all that I was told for the duration of the read.

The modern investigation is told from multiple viewpoints which include Clare, the detective DS Harbinder Kaur who is an acerbic quirky character who soon became my favourite of all the characters in the book, Clare’s teenage daughter Georgie also gets a stay and decide whether we also disapprove of her older boyfriend or not. And this is the thing, throughout the book the Victorian melodrama of suspicious deaths and references to a missing daughter brush-up not only against the absolute brutality of murder, but the everyday modernity that is life; what do we think of an Indian gay detective? Does it matter that a grown woman lives with her parents? Should a fifteen year old be dating a twenty-one year old? What does that say about him? Her Parents? and on, and on – some aspects of the book appear deliberately inserted to make the reader question the viewpoint that they are prodding at. To add to the cast of interesting characters we have Henry Hamilton a Cambridge scholar who has some of his letters and we have Harbinder Kaur’s work partner Neil and the aspiring Jean Brodie, Bryony Hughes, believe me a more mixed yet fascinating bunch of people your unlikely to meet.

As for the mystery itself? Well I guess it isn’t the hardest to crack but nor is this a book where it’s obvious from the start – there are plenty of red-herrings to keep you on your toes and don’t forget there are also mysteries to be solved in the past too! There is entertainment to be had on every page from the literary references to bonkers behaviour and ghosts haunting the stairways!

When the wind is howling and the nights are dark you’ll have to go a long way to find such a perfect atmospheric read.

I’d like to say a huge thank you to the publishers Quercus for sending me an arc, and the author Elly Griffiths for a thoroughly entertaining read, this review is my unbiased thanks to you all.

First Published UK: 1 November 2018
Publisher: Quercus
No of Pages: 416
Genre: Psychological Thriller
Amazon UK
Amazon US

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