2017 · commercial fiction · crime · fiction · Michael Joseph · psychological thrillers

Good Me Bad Me by Ali Land

Good me bad me

When Annie hands her mother over to the police she hopes for a new start in life – but can we ever escape our past?

‘NEW NAME. NEW FAMILY. SHINY. NEW. ME.’

Annie’s mother is a serial killer. The only way Annie can make it stop is to hand her in to the police.

With a new foster family and a new name – Milly – she hopes for a fresh start. Now, surely, she can be whoever she wants to be. But as her mother’s trial looms, the secrets of Milly’s past won’t let her sleep . . .

Because Milly’s mother is a serial killer. And blood is thicker than water…

15-year-old Milly is not your average teenage girl with a normal upbringing. Quite far front it. Having spent her childhood living with her abusive mother – both abusive to her and other people’s children, Milly – formerly known as Annie, is sent into foster care and awaits her mother’s trial.

This is an intensely gripping book. The starting point: Milly’s mother abducting, abusing and eventually killing innocent children from a refuge centre where she works, allows us to understand or at least get a glimpse into the psychological state of Milly and how she has internalised the abuse, which is often seen through her trauma coming back to haunt her. The plot centres around Milly, though Milly’s narrative voice is constantly addressing her imprisoned mother. The push and pull of what’s right and wrong is at the forefront as Milly fights with her thoughts and tries to do the right thing, despite being the daughter of a psychopathic killer.

When Milly is taken in by her foster parents: Mike and Saskia (until the lead up to her mother’s trial) we see Milly struggle with bullying at school, experience her self-harm herself as a way of releasing intense emotional pain, and of course, follow her throughout this mental journey to the lead up, during and after her mother’s trial. Milly longs for acceptance and a normal life and it’s easy to sympathise with her. But Milly isn’t a complete angel herself – she’s made mistakes, which become exposed as the plot unravels. But for a unreliable narrator, it is clear that she’s a deeply disturbed by her mother’s abusive behaviour and as a reader, it’s disturbing to see a teenager normalise some of these destructive behaviour traits.

The book reminded me that the roles of parents in being good role models is absolutely vital in order for children to grow up to be mentally stable members of society. I’m sure there are many children in similar situations to Milly who are suffering due to a destructive upbringing. I salute Ali Land for writing about mental health and psychological trauma in young people in such an elegant and honest manner.

Towards the closing of the novel, Milly’s actions do surprise me and also makes me fear her swell as do some of the characters but it does go to show that destruction from a very young age, where that is abuse: sexually, mentally and/ or seat, can be dangerously normalised. Milly knows what she is doing is wrong but couldn’t help herself  because that’s all she’s seen from her mother.  The opening and closing lines of the book were poignant and all that is in-between will keep you hooked as it did me. Would recommend, but not for the faint-hearted.

Good Me Bad Me was published by Michael Joseph in August 2017.

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commercial fiction · fiction · Penguin Random House UK · psychological thrillers

The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena

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PEOPLE ARE CAPABLE OF ALMOST ANYTHING.

‘Meticulously crafted and razor-sharp. THE COUPLE NEXT DOOR lingers long after you turn the final page’ HARLAN COBEN

Fast-paced and addictive, THE COUPLE NEXT DOOR announces a major new talent in thriller writing.

You never know what’s happening on the other side of the wall.

Your neighbour told you that she didn’t want your six-month-old daughter at the dinner party. Nothing personal, she just couldn’t stand her crying.

Your husband said it would be fine. After all, you only live next door. You’ll have the baby monitor and you’ll take it in turns to go back every half hour.

Your daughter was sleeping when you checked on her last. But now, as you race up the stairs in your deathly quiet house, your worst fears are realized. She’s gone.

You’ve never had to call the police before. But now they’re in your home, and who knows what they’ll find there.

What would you be capable of, when pushed past your limit?

A fast-paced, page turning psychological thriller with a unique story centred around the kidnapping of a baby. There are many psychological thrillers out there that focus on a baby or a child being in some kind of danger, and while this is the case in this novel, you would never guess who could possibly take a baby.

Six month old Cora has been taken from her crib while she slept in her nursery of her parent’s upstate New York home. She has been taken in the middle of the night while her parents were attending a dinner party next door.

Cora’s parents, Anne and Marco, had not intended to leave their baby alone when they agreed to attend their next door neighbours’ birthday dinner. A sitter had been booked but then she cancelled. The childless couple next door had clearly stated that this was an adult only event. Marco, keen to enjoy an evening out, persuades Anne that they should attend the dinner party but take the baby monitor with them and take turns to check up on sleeping Cora every thirty minutes.

When they eventually returned late at night, drunk on wine and irritated by each other’s behaviour at the party, Marco and Anne find their front door ajar and their daughter gone.

The novel allows the readers to discern each of the main characters thought processes, which is really interesting. We have the mother, heaping guilt on herself for her port partum depression, for not appreciating the perfect baby, for allowing her husband to persuade her to go out without their child when she knew it was the wrong thing to do. We have the father, schooled and numbed, fearful of the impact this will have on his already fragile wife and their relationship, fully aware that the police investigation will bring to light financial troubles that he has kept secret from Anne. We also have the lead detective, meticulously carrying out his investigation, aware that in cases like these, the parents are most often to blame.

Anne has wealthy parents and hope that by offering money to the kidnappers, she’ll be able to get her baby back. But there is so much more than just a kidnapping that unfolds within this novel. The Couple Next Door also explores the delicate relationship between husband and in laws, deception, lies, heart ache and lastly appreciation.

This is definitely a good thriller. Why? Well, because I was hooked all the way through the novel. The plot had little to no holes, and it moved at a good pace. The events and layers of other issues were woven seamlessly and I couldn’t get through this novel quick enough. I could never also anticipate the twists that had me absolutely gripped.

The Couple Next Door was publishing by Transworld, Penguin Random House in April 2017.

 

Avon · fiction · HarperCollins Publishers · psychological thrillers

Perfect Remains by Helen Fields

perfect-remains-800x528Devoured in three days, it was that brilliant!

On a remote Highland mountain, the body of Elaine Buxton is burning. All that will be left to identify the respected lawyer are her teeth and a fragment of clothing.

In the concealed back room of a house in Edinburgh, the real Elaine Buxton screams into the darkness…

Detective Inspector Luc Callanach has barely set foot in his new office when Elaine’s missing persons case is escalated to a murder investigation. Having left behind a promising career at Interpol, he’s eager to prove himself to his new team. But Edinburgh, he discovers, is a long way from Lyon, and Elaine’s killer has covered his tracks with meticulous care.

It’s not long before another successful woman is abducted from her doorstep, and Callanach finds himself in a race against the clock. Or so he believes … The real fate of the women will prove more twisted than he could have ever imagined.

Perfect Remains has all the right amount of ingredients for a chilling page-turning psychological thriller. It has a complex yet original plot and an intriguing lead that keeps readers hooked from the very first page.

Helen was able to really develop each of her characters, which played an integral role in the plot. The nameless killer who we meet at the very beginning was developed so beautifully and realistically. Dr. King is a university lecturer, a very normalish looking man and you wouldn’t think he would be capable of going to such extents to torture the women, (I would say) he could never really have.

The character of Luc Callanach was also very interesting due to his sordid past and saucy attitude. He became a likeable detective quite early on in the book and the relationship he shares with Ava Turner is also likeable, though I wished there was a bit more of a romantic thread there – maybe in book 2, fingers crossed!

The book is narrated by alternating chapters between Callanach and his department, and by the murderer himself as he uncovers his hidden tracks for abducting his female victims. My favourite chapters had to be (hands down) when Dr. King gets to work in capturing and torturing his victims. I also found it really creepy how he wanted them to learn German and recite German to him. What a sick guy but still couldn’t stop reading as the plot was so dark and compelling.

Helen was able to run multiple story lines at the same time, which also added more tension to the main plot. I was extremely happy when the investigation came to a close and all was solved. I’m looking forward to reading Perfect Prey and have high expectations of it.

Perfect Remains was published in January 2017 by Avon.

2016 · commercial fiction · fiction · Hachette · Little, Brown Book Group · new reads · psychological thrillers

The Primrose Path by Rebecca Griffiths | Review

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This psychological thriller is about Sarah, known as Rachel, who was abducted in a high profile case some years earlier. She learns that her abductor is due to be released from prison having served his sentence and decides to protect herself by leaving her life, friends and family in London. Sarah moves to a remote part of south Wales on the edge of the Brecon Beacons as Rachel. Within this area, there are four properties that are not far distant from each other and so, in addition to Rachel, we also gradually learn about the Morgans, Dai and Idris.

I found the first part of the book which is titled “50 years before” a challenging read. It’s quite dark and I did struggle to get into the plot though the characters are well developed and each have a distinct individual voice.

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Griffiths is an exceptional writer; there is a Welsh feel to the narrative with some nice turns of phrase even though it was dark. This book doesn’t explain everything as it goes along, it allows the readers to piece each puzzle of the story together, which was more enjoyable to be able to work it out on my own. It made me feel like an involved, active reader.

The Primrose Path is Rebecca Griffiths debut novel published Sphere in 2016.

2016 · fiction · Little, Brown Book Group · new reads · October · psychological thrillers · Sphere · Uncategorized

I See You by Clare Mackintosh | Review

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My heart was beating in my mouth the whole time when devouring I See You.

Protagonist Zoe Walker, a forty-something mother of two teenage kids, makes her way home from a job she hates. She takes the same route every day. When she eventually finds a seat in a pack carriage, she flicks through the evening paper to find a picture of herself in the classified ads section, with just a website address – findtheone.com. Seeing her own photo published without her knowledge throws Zoe off, as it would any other person.

Once returned home, her family all try to persuade her it is nothing but a freaky look alike. But she knows, and we know and some mysterious, sinister third party who speaks in italics knows, that is it indeed Zoe’s picture.

Shortly after, Zoe sees a similar ad, only this time with a picture of another woman. When that woman is found strangled in Muswell Hill, days later, Zoe is on the phone to the police.

Kelly Swift, a disgraced detective who has been sent to the gulag of transport policing for some misconduct (she attacked a child molester during an interview) and who badly needs her a chance to redeem herself. With Zoe’s lead about the classified ads, Kelly gets it and elbows her way back on to the murder investigation.

Findtheone.com is a bizarre dating tool that is a tormented way for men to try and date women. The unseen orchestrator of the website, who is often voices in italics is relentlessly creepy and heightens the build up of tension within the plot.

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Mackintosh builds a convincing and complex emotional backstory for both Zoe and Kelly throwing enough teasing red herrings to leave us vaguely suspicious of everyone in their lives. In Zoe’s case, her boyfriend isn’t all he says he is, her kids are roving to be a handful, her ex is devoted to her but is odd and her boss is a living nightmare.

I See You is a clever and plausible thriller, which has all the right ingredients to make it a gripping read. Mackintosh takes a subject, which everyone can relate to: commuting, and makes us see the mundane act of getting into work in a completely different light. Your fellow commuters might be just that, or then again, they might not be. The daily commute to and from work will never be the same again.

A cleverly thought out book that will give you the chills. I’d recommended to anyone that wants to be hooked from the very first chapter.

I See You, Mackintosh’s second novel, was published in 2016 by Sphere, an imprint of Little, Brown Book Group. Her debut novel, I Let You Go is a Sunday Times bestseller.

2016 · fiction · Michael Joseph · new reads · Penguin Random House UK · psychological thrillers · Uncategorized

Dear Amy Review

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Dear Amy was not the gripping read that I had expected it to be. It is psychological thrilled that turned out to be a passable read, though it failed to hold my interest a hundred pages in. Margot Lewis has an agony aunt column in the local paper, with a troubling personal history. She begins to receive letters from Bethan Avery, a girl who disappeared twenty years ago. The letters hold information that would not be known to the public and Margot’s interest is ignited. At the same time, Katie Browne, one of Margot’s student’s is missing. I was more interested in Katie’s narrative than I was Margot’s. The characters did not hold my interest, which was not helped by the slow moving plot with little twists and turns. Not good for a psychological thriller.

Unfortunately, I didn’t get to the end. Though I will say Helen Callaghan wrote very well, the lack of suspense, twists and urgency in the plot let this novel down.

Dear Amy was published by Michael Joseph, an imprint of Penguin Random House in 2016.

2016 · commercial fiction · fiction · new reads · October · Penguin Random House UK · psychological thrillers · Sphere · Uncategorized

October’s 2016 reading list: Thrillers

https://allthingsbooksweb.files.wordpress.com/2016/10/october-reading-thrillers-theprimrose-path-i-see-you-dear-amy-all-things-books-blog-img_1402.jpg?w=663There are lots of great new books out this month, which I will get around to reading at some point. But for now, I’m catching up on some previous 2016 psychological thriller releases that I’ve been dying to get my hands on. There’s nothing like being completely consumed by a good read and I desire nothing more. A big amazon parcel was delivered this morning and nothing makes my heart skip a beat than hearing the postman ring the doorbell. Knowing my books have arrived, it’s a race with myself (without tripping) to the front door.

This month, I’ll be reading Helen Callaghan’s psychological thriller, Dear Amy. This is Callaghan’s debut novel, which was published Michael Joseph, an imprint of Penguin Random House. A very to-the-point-blurb, which attracted me to reading this title.

 

Dear Amy,

Please help me.

 

I’ve been kidnapped by a strange man.

He says I can never go home.

I don’t know where I am.

I don’t even know how long I’ve been gone.

I’m afraid people will stop looking for me.

I’m afraid that he’ll kill me.

There isn’t must time left.

Please find me.

Up next is Clare Mackintosh’s psychological thriller, I SEE YOU, which was published by Sphere, an imprint of Little, Brown Book Group that belongs to Hachette. Due to the many five star ratings, I wanted to experience reading the story for myself. Blurb below.

You do the same thing every day.

You know exactly where you’re going.

You’re not alone.

 

When Zoe Walker sees her photo in the classifieds section of a London newspaper, she is determined to find out why it’s there. There’s no explanation; just a grainy image, a website and a phone number. She takes it home to her family, who are convinced it’s just someone who looks like Zoe. But the next day the advert shows a photo of a different woman, and another the day after that.

Is it a mistake? A coincidence? Or is someone keeping track of every move they make . . .

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Up third, I’ve got my copy of suspense thriller, The Primrose Path by Rebecca Griffiths, which is also published by Sphere, an imprint of Little, Brown Book Group.

 

Haunted by her past. In danger from her present.

Isolated, alone, vulnerable.

Sometimes the danger is closer than you think.

As a teenager, Sarah D’Villez famously escaped a man who abducted and held her hostage for eleven days. The case became notorious, with Sarah’s face splashed across the front of every newspaper in the country.

Now, seventeen years later, that man is about to be released from prison. Fearful of the media storm that is sure to follow, Sarah decides to flee to rural Wales under a new identity, telling nobody where she’s gone.

Settling into the small community she is now part of, Sarah soon realises that someone is watching her. Someone who seems to know everything about her . . .

Ohhh, can’t wait to get reading. Reviews coming soon!