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

The Suspect – Fiona Barton

Psychological Thriller
5*s

There can’t be many parents alive who have sons and daughters of a certain age who don’t feel mixed emotions should that child in any way be considering some time ‘travelling.’ It happened to me although my darling daughter had been to uni and lived independently while working and saving to go on her own adventure. On the one hand I was thrilled that she wanted to see how others live and at the same time to expand her own horizons and gain some experiences that I never had. On the other is that unease that it is so far away, in a place where the culture and rules are different and with the knowledge that not everyone you meet in life wishes you well.

I was therefore very pleased that those worrying days are now in the past but I can’t deny that aspects of The Suspect bought back those unstated fears so perhaps if you have a child either contemplating or travelling at the moment, postpone reading this one.

Alex has always wanted to travel with her very best friend and during the last year at school they planned their trip including all the must-see places in Thailand within its detailed itinerary. Then her best friend had to pull out but Rosie who lived down the road was able to find the money which meant Alex had someone to go with and after all an adventure is an adventure, right? And then things go wrong. No one hears from either Alex or Rosie on the day of their A Level results, or afterwards.

The story, as in the previous two books is told in part from the viewpoint of the reporter Kate Waters although perhaps this is the one story that gets far too close to home for comfort as her son is also travelling in Thailand. Also present is the police officer Bob Sparkes and for once we have an author who doesn’t go in for the outright hostility between the two professions but illustrates a more pragmatic relationship between the pair. We also hear from the parents of the two girls. Multiple viewpoints have become far more common in crime fiction but this is an author who uses them to the best advantage. Not once did I feel we were swapping the point of view to deliberately raise the tension (although there is no doubt that there is plenty of that too) but as the stories become more and more entwined these multiple viewpoints alongside Alex’s secret emails paint an entirely different picture than the telephone calls and social media postings had of the truth about the girl’s trip.

This was totally gripping and I felt that the viewpoints of all the mothers that featured in this book were real women. There are times when I feel the primeval emotion we feel about our children are often overblown, here we had the mixture of emotions that I’m sure is far more realistic and the book was all the more powerful for it.

I really don’t think the books need to be read in order, each working exceptionally well as a standalone read but as they are all five-star reads as far as I’m concerned I’m not sure why you wouldn’t!

I’d like to say a huge thank you to Random House UK for giving me a copy of The Suspect ahead of publication on 24 January 2019. This unbiased  review is my thanks to them and the author for such an engaging read.

First Published UK: 24 January 2019
Publisher: Bantam Press
No of Pages: 384
Genre: Psychological Thriller
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Previous Books by Fiona Barton

The Widow
The Child

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

Watching You – Lisa Jewell

Psychological Thriller
5*s

Lisa Jewell just goes from strength to strength as she serves up different scenarios with a whole cast of different characters in this her sixteenth novel and I for one was hooked from page one, where there is out and out darkness in the form of a body on a kitchen floor. The police are in attendance and an investigation is opened.

First of all the author paints us a picture of perfection, a group of colourful houses perched on a hill, the type of house that Joey (Josephine) has always wanted to live in but that seemed unlikely after four years working in Ibiza, and now she’s home with her new husband Alfie in tow. Fortunately her older brother Jack and his pregnant wife Rebecca live in the cobalt coloured house in Melville Heights and her and Alfie had moved in while they sorted out where there life was going next.

Lisa Jewell’s latter books have all had some level of darkness about them but this one hurtles headlong into the undeniable thriller territory. After listening to Joey describing her life to her mum at her grave, we are launched into a transcript of a police interview held at Bristol police station nearly three months past this point. A word of warning, keep your eye on the changing dates, which are easily signposted, because this book does hop backwards and forwards until the past catches up with the present.

There are as in many of this author’s books a number of issues which are sensitively portrayed but with realism at its core rather than the reader getting the feeling that they’ve been used to bolster an otherwise flabby storyline.

At the centre of this book is Tom Fitzwilliam, the head of the local school who is married to Nicola. They also live at Melville heights with their teenage son, Freddie. Joey quickly becomes infatuated with Tom and is watching him. Tom’s son Freddie was documenting the neighbourhood using his digital binoculars but more recently has been using his spy equipment to watch the teenage girls in the vicinity while down in Lower Melville Frances Tripp is convinced that there is a mass of people watching her, so she is watching everyone else.

You might be able to tell from that very short synopsis, apart from a lot of watching, there are lots of characters in this book. And what characters they are, even the teenage girls are kept distinct by Lisa Jewell’s keen eye (and pen) for the little things that make each person unique.
In short I found this latest novel absolutely gripping. I wanted to know who had been murdered, who would want to murder but most of all I wanted to truly understand this eclectic bunch of people who became my neighbours for the duration of the book. Of course it wasn’t that simple with impeccable timing we are drip-fed pieces of information, some of which are red-herrings, so that my opinion on the characters altered the more I learned about them all.

I’ve said it before, and I will say it again here, if you haven’t read one of Lisa Jewell’s books you really should, she has a very easy to read style but that isn’t to say that they are superficial, in fact they are anything but!

I’d like to thank the publisher Random House UK for allowing me to read a copy of Watching You and thank you to Lisa Jewell for such a gripping read.

First Published UK: 12 July 2018
Publisher: Random House UK
No of Pages: 496
Genre: Psychological Thriller
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Lisa Jewell Novels

Then She Was Gone (2017)
I Found You (2016)
The Girls (2015)
The Third Wife (2014)
The House We Grew Up In (2013)
Before I Met You (2012)
The Making Of Us (2011)
• After The Party (2010)
The Truth About Melody Browne (2009)
• 31 Dream Street (2007)
• Vince and Joy (2005)
• A Friend of the Family (2004)
• One Hit Wonder (2001)
• Thirtynothing (2000)
• Ralph’s Party (1999)

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 Lying Game – Ruth Ware

Psychological Thriller
4*s

I love a psychological thriller that is based on female friendship because on the whole this is one of the most underused relationships within this type of fiction. In The Lying Game we meet four women who built their friendship at boarding school – yes, I also can’t resist boarding school fiction either probably a hangover of my love of Mallory Towers as a child. The four girls were well passed the midnight feast escapades by the time they met, well into their teens and their illicit acts had more to do with alcohol, cigarettes and escaping across the marshes to one of the number’s nearby cottage.

Now an adult, Isa has a young baby and in the early hours she receives the text she hoped she never would, just three stark words that chill her ‘I need you.’ The text comes from Kate, her friend in Saltern, the one who never left the area where the four friends boarded. As Isa makes her excuses and takes the train to Saltern, she’s wondering whether Fatima and Thea are also making their way to the cottage. Needless to say they also received the text. And the reader, having read the opening chapter knows why – a dog has made an unwelcome discovery on the marshes.

The four girls, now women, were quite different and rarely the gentle exploration of religious beliefs was welcomed by this reader as we see how Fatima’s relaxed approach as a teenager has altered as she has grown, married and had a family. Now a doctor she wears her headscarf and follows the teachings as a Muslim. Thea is not so secure in life, struggling to find her calling she marshals her life with too much booze and too little food. And Isa, with her position in the legal profession on hold while she’s on maternity leave, appears to have put the past behind her. As for Kate, she has clung on, living in her artistic father’s house in Saltern, the scene of their childhood escape route, and ignoring the rumours that still swirl around the village as she clings to the past.

This is the sort of novel you can race through with ease and although it starts slowly, I was invested from the first page wondering what secrets the four were hiding. The title comes from the time the four became friends, excluding the other boarders in the type of friendship that is peculiar to some teenage girls. There was no room for anyone, or anything else in their lives and any potential hangers-on were kept at bay by the game devised by Thea – ‘The Lying Game’ invented to play pranks, not on any new girls, but those popular girls, and teachers, the ones who made sure their superiority was not in doubt.
Although the book didn’t have the huge twist that readers have come to expect from the genre, the exploration of friendship, both as teenagers, and adults was perfectly executed and the setting was brilliant. I felt I was there with the women, looking out over the landscape, in the unique cottage or even in the somewhat shabby boarding school with its endless staircases.

The Lying Game would make the perfect holiday read, escapism bound up with truths that many readers will identify with.

I am very grateful to the publishers Random House UK who provided me with a copy of The Lying Game which was a thoroughly engaging read; this unbiased review is my thanks to them. For those of you who prefer to read paperbacks, this one will be published in that form in March 2018.

First Published UK: 15 June 2017
Publisher: Harvill Secker
No. of Pages: 384
Genre: Psychological Thriller
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Previous Books by Ruth Ware

In a Dark Dark Wood
The Woman in Cabin 10

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

The Long Drop – Denise Mina

Crime Fiction 5*s
Crime Fiction
5*s

This is the story of Peter Manuel, not a recreation of his crimes scrawled baldly across the page but a nuanced look at the man, both behind the vile acts he perpetrated and the one that he was in his own mind. In Peter’s head there was still the possibility to be another Peter, the one who was a writer and was famous for something other than burglarising, vandalising and raping. When he met the long drop (the method used for hanging in Scotland) he wasn’t the other Peter though, he was the man who wasn’t as clever as he thought he was.

Denise Mina has created a night Peter spent with the father of one of his victims. A father, husband and brother-in-law to three women who didn’t live to say what their last night was like but William Watt wants to know, particularly as he was arrested for the crimes himself, and so his lawyer Laurence Dowdall, having secured Manuel’s agreement, accompanies the men on a meeting in a restaurant one wintry Glaswegian night in 1957. Laurence Dowdall leaves the two men to it and they spend the entire night drinking, visiting clubs before finally winding up drinking a cup of tea in a car outside Manuel’s house, his mother a mere shadow behind the curtains.

The nuanced and assured storytelling is gripping with details oozing out of each sentence, not just about the crimes but about the characters, the essence of the lives they lived and the Glasgow of that age before the slums were cleared and Glasgow was cleaned up. It tells the story of a whole community which had violence running through it. The men jostling for position, just as Manuel and William Watt did in the pub, desperate to hold prime position, not to be outdone by lesser men. Being hard was what it was all about and the men who both protected and beat their women with fierce pride.

Of course we do learn about Manuel’s crimes too in a similar fashion, this isn’t a linear story telling, it is all the more captivating because we wait for the details; the half-eaten sandwich left abandoned at the murder scene, the empty bottle of whisky left on the sideboard for the police to find after the shock of the broken bodies left in the bedroom have been discovered. There is no doubt that Peter Manuel was not a nice man but we also see him through his parent’s eyes. One particular scene about their visit to the prison is one that I suspect is seared into my memory for ever, the emotions roll off the page in an understated manner which pulled at my heart-strings all the more for those that remained unsaid. I have a particular respect for writers who leave the reader the space to fill in the gaps, to allow them to put themselves in the shoes of a mother of a murderer without justifying the emotions she felt and what she might feel in a week hence.

This without a doubt is one of the best books I’ve read based on a true crime with this relatively short book being jam-packed with details which are wide-ranging. It did help that I had recently watched the television drama In Plain Sight, because previously I hadn’t heard of this man, although I’m now aware that for years afterwards his name was used as a synonym for the bogeyman for Glaswegian children.

I was fortunate to receive an advance copy of The Long Drop prior to the publication by Random House UK on 2 March 2017. This unbiased review is my thank you to them and of course the incredibly talented Denise Mina.

First Published UK: 2 March 2017
Publisher: Random House UK
No of Pages: 240
Genre: Crime Fiction
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Posted in Book Review, Books I have read

What Remains of Me – Alison Gaylin

Psychological Thriller 3*s
Psychological Thriller
3*s

On a hot summer night in 1980 Kelly Lund killed John McFadden, a famous film director. Kelly is imprisoned for the crime at aged just seventeen, and she does her time. Thirty years later, five years after Kelly’s release from prison, her father-in-law, Sterling Marshall, a movie star, is murdered. In 1980 following her appearance in court she was pictured with a half-smile on her face, that picture has accompanied every story written about Kelly and John McFadden ever since, it looks like it may need another airing now.

The book uses the setting of Hollywood itself to underpin a book which shows us the events of 1980 in flashback. It is a tale of a poor kid mixing with the elite and not fitting in. at school not helped by the fact that Kelly had a sister who committed suicide after getting in with the rich and famous and her mother is terrified that Kelly will follow in her footsteps. That doesn’t seem likely at first with Kelly being of a far quieter nature, but then Bellamy choses her to be her friend and soon she is mixing with her famous friends. We get to see the progression where Kelly doesn’t really feel like she belongs; she lives in Hollywood because her father was a stunt man and her mother a make-up artist, a life where the huge houses and free access to drink and drugs has never been part of her world, but once she teams up with Bellamy, it is.

In 2010 the police don’t immediately swoop in on Kelly Lund their approach being far more stealthy, which is just as well because she has a backer, someone who doesn’t believe she is guilty of the latest murder and will fight to prove it. Her husband Shane is welcomed back into the family bosom, his marriage to Kelly having caused a little bit of consternation, and they are all pointing the finger at the former killer.

Kelly Lund was a bit of an enigma throughout this book, understandably so as part of the mystery is whether she is a murderer or not, but for me, this device meant that it was quite hard to connect with her, and perhaps, not being interested in being rich or famous myself, I wasn’t as impressed by the Hollywood lifestyle as Kelly was. On her release from prison Kelly isn’t that impressed either and she lives a quiet life with her husband Shane some distance away from the scene of the first crime, but the links, however weak, are still there.

This book had many of the individual elements that make for a good read, a strong, well-thought out plot, an interesting protagonist, a whole boxful of secrets and a heap of red-herrings, but for me, it just didn’t culminate in the type of absorbing read I expected. This wasn’t helped by the slow start, the numerous cruel characters and the absence of any real information about what it was that meant that Kelly was convicted of the first murder. It was just all a little too elusive for my tastes. For all that the events that led to both deaths, once revealed meant that a lot of the earlier confusion was cleared up, ideal for readers who enjoy a slow burn and are more patient than me at sitting it out until the conclusion.

I was lucky enough to receive an advance copy of What Remains of Me from the publishers Random House UK, this review is my unbiased thanks to them.

First Published UK: 1 December 2016
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

The Museum of You – Carys Bray

Contemporary Fiction 5*s
Contemporary Fiction
5*s

What a delightful read with a vein of honesty running through Clover Quinn and her father, Darren’s story.

Clover has just completed her first year at secondary school and Darren has conceded that she no longer needs to spend her days with their elderly neighbour Mrs Mackerel and so with the long summer holiday stretching before her Clover decides on a project. Inspired by a trip to Liverpool’s Maritime Museum and having a conversation with one of the curators, she is going to sort through all her Mum’s belongings and find out all about her. Then she is going to display her findings in the second bedroom, complete with cards explaining each item in the display.

Carys Bray has perfectly captured the mind, and voice, of a twelve year old who is just realised that friendship at secondary schools are more judgemental than those at primary, that her father who is trying his best, doesn’t get everything right and that other’s around her have challenges of their own, and just sometimes Clover can help. Clover also knows that there is a mother shaped hole in her life, and all Clover has is a couple of blurry photos, the tale of how she was born on the kitchen floor with dear Mrs Mackeral in attendance, and then… nothing.

So the project starts, interrupted by the necessary job of going to the allotment, delivering the produce to her Grandfather and Mrs Mackeral who checks up on the progress of the scarf that Clover is knitting for her father. Mrs Mackeral is the comedic element to what is an emotional tale, no matter how up-beat the presentation, and whose malapropisms had me chuckling as they are flung about with abandon always at high volume.

Clover’s first job is to sort through the jumble of items that have been flung into what was her mother’s bedroom, although the hoarding spreads throughout the house, this is the worst area. Having inched her way through envelopes containing promotions for holidays, towels and bed linen it is a while before Clover finds any real essence of her mother but she’s determined to do so.

The brilliance of this book is that all the elements come together in such a beautiful package; the writing is evocative, it was as easy to roll back the years to engage with Clover as it was to sympathise with Darren over the enormous responsibility of caring for Clover since she was just six weeks old. His determination to both love and protect her comes shining through and yet of course we know that placing Clover at the centre of his world has had a knock-on effect on the rest of his life. The author hasn’t however given us a saint, Darren gets irritated, particularly by Uncle Jim who suffers from depression, with his Dad who no longer leaves his home happy to research all sorts of things on his computer and with the occasional passenger on his job as a bus driver, unsurprising as this wasn’t Darren’s plan for his life – long ago he was going to be living a different life entirely, but things change. Added to that we have the wonderful characters, all of them from Mrs Mackeral who I initially disliked, maybe a throw-back to my own childhood which seemed over-run with characters like this, to Uncle Jim and Dagmar who is lost in her own way but teams up with Clover on her trips to the allotment. But what I loved most of all were the truisms that turn up in the most unlikely places throughout this book:

One of the surprising things about adulthood is how few people accompany you there and what a relief it is to occasionally talk to someone who knew the child you and the teenage you , someone who had seen all your versions, every update and stuck with you through all of it. That’s really something.

I was worried that this book may be too saccharine for my tastes, but evidently not, this isn’t one of those that obviously makes a play for your emotions but creeps up over you until you can’t help but want the best for each and every one of the people that grace the pages, even those whose stories can’t be changed. It is a very rare book indeed that makes me shed real tears – this book was one of them!

I’d like to say a huge thank you to Random House UK who allowed me to read a copy of The Museum of You, this unbiased review is my thanks to them.

First Published UK: 16 June 2016
Publisher: Random House UK
No of Pages: 368
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Posted in Book Review, Books I have read

The Woman in Cabin 10 – Ruth Ware

Psychological Thriller 4*s
Psychological Thriller
4*s

Lo Blacklock has won the office prize! Her boss Rowan is unable to take a cruise on a luxury boat to see the Northern Lights, so after ten years of doing travel journalism she’s finally going to have an expensive trip to write about. The trip on the Aurora promises fine dining and pampering aplenty and Lo will just have to file some pieces extolling its virtues! What could possibly go wrong?

Sadly, Lo has a traumatic experience just before setting off which indirectly led to a split with her boyfriend who she’s been holding at arm’s length. Not the best start when the boat isn’t a huge cruise-liner but a compact yet bling encrusted yacht with populated by other journalists, the billionaire owner and his wife and a smattering of the great and the good. Despite her personal problems Lo is determined to make this trip count, to make her mark and hopefully bag the stand-in role for Rowan when she takes her maternity leave. She’s pleased to meet a former boyfriend Ben on the boat, especially due to the anxiety that she’s suffered for years which has been made worse by the trauma of days before she drinks too much and quite frankly doesn’t really pull off the ambitious yet capable journalist look she was going for.

After retiring to her cabin she believes she hears a scream, followed by a big splash. The partition separating her verandah from the one in Cabin 10 is smeared with blood and the girl she saw in there earlier has disappeared. Lo fears she’s been tipped into the water and begins to raise the alarm, but it seems she’s not going to be believed.
The setting on a boat is great for this closed house type mystery and the lack of phone signal and the Wi-Fi being down completes the isolation from the rest of the world, and crucially stops Lo from doing what she’d like, which is to escape. Denied safety and panicking more than ever, unsurprisingly as she believes she’s on a boat with a killer, Lo tries to investigate herself. What follows is a fairly twisty turny read that is claustrophobic in the extreme. The style is underpinned by crisp writing, although we have an insight into Lo’s anxiety issues they are not endlessly dwelt upon so the plot moves along at a fair old pace.

I often say I don’t have to like the characters to enjoy a book and in The Woman in Cabin 10, it wasn’t that I actively disliked Lo but I didn’t really have it in me to whole-heartedly sympathise with her – this left me feeling more than a bit mean as I’m sure I wouldn’t enjoy being on a boat with no means of escape with a killer, but it did leave me feeling a little bit at odds with the book which was disquieting.

There is no doubt that Ruth Ware has come up with a book that is a modern twist on the locked house scenario. There are very few opportunities for this type of setting in the modern world where we can access someone the other side of the world with ease but the boat setting was entirely believable (although such an exclusive setting is one that I suspect few of us have experienced. From a fairly sedate start the pace slowly mounted to reach an action-packed finale, no sitting around passively while the detective pronounces the killer in this version!

If I’m honest I did prefer this author’s debut novel In a Dark Dark Wood, maybe because the setting and characters were far more familiar to me than those presented in this book. I like being able to relate to the characters in particular, even if I wouldn’t want to spend time with them but the mixture of sycophantic journalists and wealthy businessmen really don’t feature that heavily in my life. If you want a book with a bit of escapism with high drama, this is well-worth a read.

I’d like to thank the publisher Random House UK for allowing me to read a copy of this book which was published on 30 June 2016. This honest review is my thank you to them.

First Published UK: 30 June 2016
Publisher: Random House UK
No of Pages: 352
Genre: Psychological Thriller
Amazon UK
Amazon US

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

I Found You – Lisa Jewell

Psychological Thriller 5*s
Contemporary Fiction
5*s

Lisa Jewell is an author you can absolutely depend upon to provide you with a story to lose yourself in and I Found You was no different. Those of you who think that this is shelved under light reading, you are wrong. There are dark aspects to this story which rival the best of the ‘grip-lit’ that adorn bookshop’s shelves the world over.

Cold and wet and staring out to see stands a man with no name. Well of course he has a name but he can’t remember anything. He hasn’t the faintest clue who he is or where he is. On the other side of the beach, behind a rain-streaked pane of glass stands Alice Lake. Alice is watching the man, all morning and into the afternoon when she is moved to take him a spare coat. Alice is a kind-hearted, if one who fate hasn’t handed her the best of luck. She has three children ranging from mid-teens to five-year old Ronnie and they all have different fathers but her luck has turned and she now has a good friend Derry in Ridinghouse Bay, East Yorkshire. Derry tells her to leave the man on the beach to his own devices, but Alice isn’t terribly good at following advice and she longs to know more about him.

In Surrey in a newly built flat Lily Monrose has lost her husband of three weeks. She has rung his mobile but there is no answer. Lily has only just landed in the country following their wedding in Ukraine and she knows no-one. With Carl missing Lily has to become resourceful if she’s to track down her husband.

These two storylines continue at parallel for part one of the book and then we slip back in time to 1993 and join a family holiday in Ridinghouse Bay. Coincidentally they are staying in the same house that Alice and her family inhabit in the present day. This turns out to be a holiday that no-one will forget.

This book, like so many of Lisa Jewell’s previous books captured me from the start. I wanted to know more about the man on the beach, I wanted to be free-spirited Alice’s friend, I put myself in Lily’s shoes and marvelled at her persistence and ingenuity in a foreign land and would happily have chatted to the family holidaying in Ridinghouse Bay. All the characters feel totally authentic and act in a realistic way which lends a great deal of depth to what turns into probably the darkest of all Lisa Jewell’s novels. I was gripped from the beginning and if there was a word for gripped more, then I was that from part two which resulted in total grippedness by the last pages of this book, which had me shedding a small tear or two for all that had gone before.

Reading this novel felt like meeting an old friend, or few; the writing style is ‘friendly’ and the first person present tense gives the feeling of immediacy which made me feel like I was at worst an onlooker although at times I really believed I was there as I came up with my own wild theories as to what was going on.

I Found You was published on 14 July 2016 by Random House UK who allowed me to read a copy of this book and this unbiased review is my thank you to them.

Publication Date UK: 14 July 2016
Publisher: Random House UK
No of Pages: 448
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Amazon UK
Amazon US

My favourite Lisa Jewell books:

click on the covers to read my reviews

Before I Met YouThe House We Grew Up InThe Making of UsThe Truth About Melody Browne

Lisa Jewell Novels
• I Found You (2016)
The Girls (2015)
The Third Wife (2014)
• The House We Grew Up In (2013)
• Before I Met You (2012)
• The Making Of Us (2011
• After The Party (2010)
• The Truth About Melody Browne (2009)
• 31 Dream Street (2007)
• Vince and Joy (2005
• A Friend of the Family (2004)
• One Hit Wonder (2001)
• Thirtynothing (2000)
• Ralph’s Party (1999)