Posts Tagged ‘thriller’


Title: Beside Myself
Author: Ann Morgan
ISBN: 9781408870297
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing
Source: Advance copy via NetGalley
Release Date: January 14, 2016
Rating: 4 out of 5

Synopsis: 

Helen and Ellie are identical twins – like two peas in a pod, everyone says.

The girls know this isn’t true, though: Helen is the leader and Ellie the follower.

Until they decide to swap places: just for fun, and just for one day.

But Ellie refuses to swap back…

And so begins a nightmare from which Helen cannot wake up. Her toys, her clothes, her friends, her glowing record at school, the favour of her mother and the future she had dreamed of are all gone to a sister who blossoms in the approval that used to belong to Helen. And as the years pass, she loses not only her memory of that day but also herself – until eventually only ‘Smudge’ is left.

Twenty-five years later, Smudge receives a call from out of the blue. It threatens to pull her back into her sister’s dangerous orbit, but if this is her only chance to face the past, how can she resist?

Review:

Beside Myself is the story of twins and how a childish game gone horribly wrong affects the entire life of one of the twins. One day, Helen and Ellie decide to swap places to tease their mother and other people in their neighbourhood. After fooling everyone, including their mother, Helen wants to swap back. But Ellie refuses. You see, Helen has always been the leader between them and Ellie has lived in Helen’s shadow. Ellie has always been poorly and mentally slow due to a complication at birth. But now, she has the opportunity to live the life Helen has enjoyed. Helen ends up being locked in as Ellie and try as much, she cannot switch back. As frustration and helplessness set in, she starts to develop psychological problems.

Helen (now Ellie) is clearly mentally ill, hearing voices, living in a horrible apartment – which reflects the chaos and confusion in her mind. She is also paranoid and suspicious and sometimes has a hard time differentiating between reality and nightmares.

This dark psychological thriller is very well written and atmospheric and shows what it is like to experience mental illness brought on by dysfunctional family dynamics, social pressure and deception. The creepy premise of this book grabbed me. Reading about twins is always fascinating as they share a bond unlike any other. To be true, I didn’t like these twins but still the it held my interest till the end. Does Helen ever get her life back?


Title: Run to Mecover22416-medium
Author: Diane Hester
ISBN: 9781742756424
Source: Advance copy from publisher via NetGalley
Release Date: March 1, 2013
Rating: 4 out of 5

Synopsis:

It’’s been two years since Shyler O’Neil’’s beloved son Jesse was killed –but his final moments are as vivid to her now as they were that dreadful day. Suffering from post-traumatic stress and convinced she did not do enough to protect him, she retreats to an isolated cabin in the woods of northern Maine. Meanwhile, Zack Ballinger –a ten-year-old boy who has never known a mother’’s love – finds himself in the wrong place at the wrong time. He’’s seen too much and is now running for his life. Fleeing into the woods, Zack soon finds himself at Shyler’’s cabin. He’’ll take whatever help she can give –even though, for some reason, she keeps calling him Jesse . . . With the pursuers hot on their heels, ‘mother’ and ‘son’ go on the run. Protecting Zack may well be Shyler’’s one chance at redemption. Either that, or she is the child’’s greatest threat . . .

My Review:

This is a very well written novel. There is no mystery here but it is suspenseful. The characters are brilliant, especially Shyler. Shyler has been through a lot, the death of her son has scarred her and she has withdrawn from people and reality. Shyler’s character is very well nuanced and Hester does a superb job articulating Shyler’s thoughts and what all goes on in her mind.

Zack is another damaged character due the circumstances he has faced in his short life. Zack has grown up in foster homes and is mature beyond his age, yet there is a small child within him who yearns for a home and mother’s love. So he holds on to Shyler even after knowing that she is a bit unhinged and damaged.

The novel is written from the perspectives of Shyler, Zack and Dr. Chase Hadley. I couldn’t help but smile at that name! While Zack and Shyler are dealing with their own hells, Dr. Hadley is stuck in between them and offers to help. I loved the dialogues between Dr. Hadley and his father. There are parellel stories going on in this novel and yet it all comes together in a suspenseful climax. Do read this one! Highly recommended.


Title: The Burning Aircover23857-medium
Author: Erin Kelly
ISBN: 9780670026722
Source: Advance copy from publisher via NetGalley
Release Date: February 21, 2013
Rating: 3 out of 5

Synopsis:

The MacBrides lead a cozy life of upper class privilege: good looks (more or less), a beautiful home, tuition-free education at the prestigious private school where Rowan is headmaster, an altruistic righteousness inherited from magistrate Lydia.

But when Rowan and his three grown children gather for the first time since Lydia’s passing at the family’s weekend home—a restored barn in the English countryside—years of secrets surface, and they discover a stranger in their midst. A stranger who is convinced that Lydia was a murderer. A stranger who has been exacting vengeance upon the family for years without their ever knowing. And one who will threaten the youngest MacBride, baby Edie, and the clan’s memory of Lydia, shattering their world forever.

My Review:

This is a dark psychological thriller with a gripping storyline. It starts with a family gathering at their house in the country to say goodbye to Lydia, the deceased wife of Ronan and mother to Sophie, Felix and Tara. But lurking in their midst is a stranger who has deadly intentions towards this family and will not stop at anything to get his vengeance.

The book takes place in multiple time periods. At the start when the crime is committed, it shifts to the past and we read the why and how of the crime. We read from Darcy’s point of view – the student who was rejected by Ronan MacBride. Darcy’s character is dark, complicated and very damaged. It is a character that is monstrous yet believable, damaged yet endearing in some ways.

Apart from Darcy’s character, the other relationships in the the novel and intricate and well dawn out – the complicated relationships between siblings, spouses and parents are very realistic. The entire novel is very tense and there is a sense of foreboding. The most gripping thing though is Darcy’s twisted belief that he was wronged, his acts of vengeance and his complete faith in his beliefs and actions.


Title: Touch and Gocover21762-medium
Author: Lisa Gardner
ISBN: 9780778313656
Source: Advance copy from publisher via NetGalley
Release Date: February 1, 2013
Rating: 4 out of 5

Synopsis:

Justin and Libby Denbe have the kind of life that looks good in the pages of a glossy magazine. A beautiful fifteen-year old daughter, Ashlyn. A gorgeous brownstone on a tree-lined street in Boston’s elite Back Bay neighbourhood  A great marriage, admired by friends and family.  A perfect life.

When investigator Tessa Leoni arrives at the crime scene in the Denbes’ home, she finds scuff marks on the floor and Taser confetti in the foyer.  The family appears to have been abducted, with only a pile of their most personal possessions remaining behind.  No witnesses, no ransom demands, no motive.  Just an entire family, vanished without a trace.

Tessa knows better than anyone that even the perfect façades can hide the darkest secrets.  Now she must race against the clock to uncover the Denbes’ innermost dealings, a complex tangle of friendships and betrayal, big business and small sacrifices.  Who would want to kidnap such a perfect little family?  And how far would such a person be willing to go?

My Review:

This is my first book from this author and I liked it a lot. As I haven’t read the previous books in the series, it was a bit difficult to understand Tessa’s background but it sure was intriguing. I need to check her other books now.

Though I figured out the plot midway through, it was still thrilling. I loved the devilish mindset of the villain, the clever way in which it was all planned and played out. The twisted mind was just brilliant. The victims had their own personal problems to deal with and that added layers to the plot. I loved the writing style, the rich and twisted characters A very good read and a page turner.


Title: One Breath Away
cover18323-mediumAuthor: Heather Gudenkauf
ISBN: 9780778313656
Source: Advance copy from publisher via NetGalley
Release Date: June 26, 2012
Rating: 3 out of 5

Synopsis: In the midst of a sudden spring snowstorm, an unknown man armed with a gun walks into an elementary school classroom. Outside the school, the town of Broken Branch watches and waits.

Officer Meg Barrett holds the responsibility for the town’s children in her hands. Will Thwaite, reluctantly entrusted with the care of his two grandchildren by the daughter who left home years earlier, stands by helplessly and wonders if he has failed his child again. Trapped in her classroom, Evelyn Oliver watches for an opportunity to rescue the children in her care. And thirteen-year-old Augie Baker, already struggling with the aftermath of a terrible accident that has brought her to Broken Branch, will risk her own safety to protect her little brother.

As tension mounts with each passing minute, the hidden fears and grudges of the small town are revealed as the people of Broken Branch race to uncover the identity of the stranger who holds their children hostage.

My Review:

I read this book at the time of the school shooting in Connecticut. The book deals with the similar situation that of a gunman inside a school. Nobody knows who this gunman is, is he a parent? an ex-student? And what does he have against the kids in the school?

As with Gudenkauf’s other book, These Things Hidden, this too is told from multiple points of view, from the different characters that are affected with this incident. Each character’s account builds on the other and it doesn’t get confusing at any point. What I like about Gudenkauf’s writing is the narratives of each of the characters and it is very engaging.

In this book we get an inside out and outside in perspective about the school situation in the small town. Another thing I liked about the book is how this tense situation affects the relationship dynamics between the people of the town. The prejudices and false appearances give way to true feelings as the people try to find out who the gunman in the school is.  The mystery is a bit of a let down but if you like to read about characters and their nuances then you must pick this one up.


Title: Obedience
Author: Will Lavender
ISBN: 9780307396105
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 2 out of 5

Synopsis: When the students in Winchester University’s Logic and Reasoning 204 arrive for their first day of class, they are greeted not with a syllabus or texts, but with a startling assignment from Professor Williams: Find a hypothetical missing girl named Polly. If after being given a series of clues and details the class has not found her before the end of the term in six weeks, she will be murdered.

At first the students are as intrigued by the premise of their puzzle as they are wary of the strange and slightly creepy Professor Williams. But as they delve deeper into the mystery, the boundary between the classroom and the real world is blurred and the students wonder if it is their own lives they are being asked to save.

My Review:

I picked up this book as I thought this was exactly my type of book. Psychology, mystery, thriller, murder – what’s not to like? It was another intriguing plot. But I was wrong. This book is a page turner no doubt, but it is not a good book. The plot is interesting and captivating at the beginning but then it just gets too confusing. At one point I was so confused, I couldn’t make out what were the clues, who was real, who was alive and who was supposedly dead. But then I just continued as I wanted to know how it would all end.

The ending was disappointing, I expected more – some kind of redemption for the characters. The book was a page turner but it could have been executed better. The characters were nothing special, except the professor. There are many loose ends and plot lines which are not explained. The book follows few of the students in the class and how they go about solving this puzzle. But what about the other students? What are they doing? Why isn’t this group discussing it with them. What about other teachers? It doesn’t tie up well in the end. The climax I thought was implausible.

In thrillers and mystery books, I like all loose ends to be tied up neatly in the end, all misleading plot lines to work in tandem with the solution – or perhaps I expect an Agatha Christie ending from every other author and this book so doesn’t do it. The climax is very different from what anyone reading it would expect that I agree. But then it was not to my liking. Some might actually like it, some surprise that would leave you astonished but it’s not my cup of tea. I am not glad that I spent money purchasing it instead of borrowing it from the library.


Title: Before I Go To Sleep
Author: S J Watson
ISBN: 0062065238
Source: Library Copy
Rating: 3 out of 5

Synopsis: Christine wakes up every morning with a blank mind. The bed is unfamiliar and the man sleeping next to her is a stranger. When she looks into the mirror she finds herself a lot older than what she remembers. The man tells her that he is her husband Ben and they have been married for many years. He tells her about an accident two decades ago that is the cause of her amnesia. With the help of a doctor, Christine maintains a journal about her daily activities as an attempt to piece her life together. The first line in her journal reads ‘Don’t trust Ben..’

My Review:

Another interesting book with an interesting concept. The start of this book is captivating. I haven’t read very many books on amnesia so this was interesting. Christine, our narrator and protagonist suffers from various types of amnesia and every day when she wakes up she has to start her life from scratch. From her unreliable memory she has build the missing pieces of her life together and live each day as it comes.

I couldn’t help but think of 50 First Dates with a sinister twist. The mystery is very puzzling indeed at the start and I was quite drawn in. Somewhere even before the middle, I could make out what the twist or mystery would be and so the ending was a let down. I thought the climax should have been more detailed and well put out but it was handled as an afterthought or sorts.

Having said that, it still made me turn the page and keep reading on. I was sucked into it at the start but then the plot just frizzled out and I knew the ending even before I was halfway through the book. Still, a new concept for me and interesting plot at least at the beginning. So give it a read if you like mystery with a psychological thrill put into it.


Title: Afterwards
Author: Rosamund Lupton
ISBN13: 9780307716545
Source: Library Copy
Rating: 3 out of 5

Synopsis: When Grace sees the private school engulfed in smoke, where her daughter works, she runs inside to save her daughter, Jenny. Later, she wakes up in a hospital and finds herself staring down at her body. Both she and Jenny are in coma but their spirits freely roam the inside the hospital. The spirits of mother and daughter follow the people they know to find out the person who started the fire to hurt them.

My Review:

I had thoroughly enjoyed Sister and was excited to read Lupton’s second novel, Afterwards. This is a twisted kind of thriller that keeps you interested from the first page. You know from the start that the fire wasn’t an accident and you try to keep guessing who could have possibly done it and what was the motive. What I found most interesting was the concept of this novel – two trapped spirits trying to deduce the mystery behind the fire and possibly an attempted murder.

The hospital building, its halls and gardens offer solace to these spirits and although they can leave the hospital it is very difficult for them to be outside. Grace who narrates all the incidences following the fire gains a whole new perspective about the people in her life when she follows them around the hospital.

After a point though the book became a bit predictable and while it was still interesting, you could make out what the end was going to be. Despite this, I enjoyed Lupton’s writing. The lyrical and mesmerizing ways in which she depicts emotions, situations and people is very captivating. If not for the mystery, then for the narration and plot premise I would suggest read this book.


Promise Not to Tell

Image via Wikipedia

Title: Promise Not To Tell
Author: Jennifer McMahon
ISBN: 0752882988
Source: Library Copy
Rating: 5 out of 5

Synopsis: Kate Cypher, a nurse working in Seattle, receives a call from her old friends, who tell her that her mother’s health is deteriorating. Back home in rural Vermont, her mother is suffering from Alzheimer’s and dementia. Kate reluctantly returns home to confront the situation with her mother who doesn’t want to be put up in a home. There are other issues waiting for her. Kate’s best friend from school, Del Griswold, was murdered 31 years earlier and the killer was never found. When Kate returns home, there is another murder that is frighteningly similar to her friend’s. Is this just a coincidence or is it the same killer who murdered Del? What really happened the day Del was murdered?

My Review:

To say I enjoyed Promise Not To Tell would be an understatement. This fast paced gripping novel never has a dull moment. The foreshadowing, the increasing anticipation only added to the thrilling suspense without giving away too much. I have read books which were frustrating when the author reveal’s too much and it ruins the book due to poor placement.

This page turner was a little bit creepy, not to scary but definitely spooky. It is not a full-blown horror novel but the entire time I was reading it, I felt a chill running down my spine as the writing is so hauntingly beautiful.

This book alternates between flashbacks and present and both the timelines are perfectly merged. I never felt confused about the time period I was reading. This is a story about Kate and Del and their unexpected friendship and what happens when you deny it to be part of a popular group and hurt the one true friend along the way – a story about family, friendships, devotion and betrayal.

McMahon has done a brilliant job portraying school children. As much as we like to think of kids and angels, they can be incredibly cruel. The rare friendship between Kate and Del is beautifully written. The author shows the extent to which children can be cruel and what happens when you are at the receiving end of taunting and bullying at the hands of your friendship.

It is rare for me to find books that I like so much, apart from Agatha Christie’s and this is one such book that kept coming back at me after I was done reading it. Highly recommended!


Author: Nora Roberts

ISBN: 978-0-7499-4042-3

Website: http://www.noraroberts.com/

At a housing construction site, in the small town community of Woodsboro , a worker unexpectedly digs up some human bones. This causes the Antietam Creek Project to come to a sudden halt. It is said that the plot holds that part of the land in dread because of the haunted pond called Simon’s Hole. The bones are found to be more than 5000 years old. Lana Campbell, a widower with a son, a lawyer and member of Historical Preservation Society, releases a court order to stop further construction on the site. First to arrive on the scene is the famous archeologist Dr. Callie Dunbrook. She brings in many other university grads and undergrads to dig on the site, including renowned anthropologist and Callie’s irritating but irresistible ex-husband, Jake Graystone. Forced to work together on the project, Callie and Jake set aside their mutual differences temporarily, and intend to discover what the bones of people long gone have to say. Since a lot of people’s living depends on the construction site they don’t want these archaeologists on the site and hence decide to make life hell for them.

Little does Callie know that her passion for finding out the secrets of the dead is on the verge of becoming a mission of finding out answers to the questions of her own past. An unknown and distraught woman, Suzanne Cullen, turns up at her motel telling her that Callie is her long lost daughter. This turns Callie’s life upside down and though she is sure that she was not adopted she still insists on finding the truth because it’s her birthright. Jake acts as the strongest and only support in Callie’s mission of unravelling the secrets of her birth,which actually makes them realize that their divorce was a biggest mistake that they made in their relationship. While they are at it and digging the site, the people in their team start dying, one by one.

Is someone out to sabotage the work of the archaeologists or are there supernatural forces at work and haunting the ground?

Is Suzanne Cullen telling the truth?

‘Birthright’ is a superb work by Nora. This was the first time I picked her book and I’m sure I’m going to pick her other works. The novel takes you through lot of twists and turns of the puzzle and in the meanwhile through the relationships that are entangled in love, emotions and questions. How the families come together and the role of each family member is given fair importance and justice. All characters are perfectly etched out. Everything is in place as a suspense thriller. Not as stupendous as an Agatha Christie, I was still trying hard to guess the culprit, though I could tie up a few ends and could come up with a hypothesis. I guess after forty odd Agatha Christie’s that’s the least I should be able to do. But still it’s a very good read.

My rating for this book is 3/5.