The Darkest Lies

Title: The Darkest Lies

Author: Barbara Copperthwaite

Genres: Crime | Psychological Thriller

Length: 404 pages | 5183 Kindle locations

Source: Netgalley

Publisher: Bookouture

Publishing Date: May 12th, 2017

Rating: 2.75/5

Premise:

Beth is a 13 year old girl who absolutely loves her family but is also growing up.
One day she goes missing. As her mother investigates what happened to Beth, she finds out that her daughter had lots of secrets, and so do the people she has known all her life.

Review:

The Darkest Lies mostly alternates between a third-person narration of what happened to Beth, a second-person account of her mother’s thoughts in the form of a journal to her daughter, and a mysterious third party with an obviously very nasty agenda. The book started well enough for me as I liked Beth’s character and even though her family seemed perfect, as well as her relationship to them, I found it believable. As events progressed, I could feel her mother’s anguish and found myself immersed in the story.

As Melanie begins asking around I was hesitant because at first people seemed to be telling the truth but it was just not possible to hit so many dead ends in a town where everyone seems to know other people, so the suspense definitely built up as Melanie realised some were hiding something but she didn’t know what.

However, after a while the book began dragging and found myself progressively annoyed at Melanie’s constant bad decisions and obliviousness at some hints that seemed obvious to me and she would either not realise or choose not to follow up on. I found her hero complex was just plain arrogance in disguise and her assumption that the police was doing nothing just because they could not share details of the investigation was frankly quite irritating. At some point I just couldn’t wait for all the red herrings to be put out of the way and to find out something tangible, but unfortunately all that was saved for the last few chapters.

I find that when books advertise a big twisty plot I can’t wait to get to it and end up not enjoying the journey much at all. From what I read in other reviews, other readers feel the same way. I did try not to let it affect me but, even though I enjoyed reading some descriptions, as well as watching Melanie realise that there was so much she didn’t know about her daughter, not to mention Beth’s own issues keeping other people’s secrets, the fact is I got more and more annoyed with Melanie, and by the time I got to half the book (which by the way took me a week) I could not stand her. On the other hand, Jacob’s character was just so hollow, which was a shame because he could have brought some balance to the book.

Things did get more interesteding in the last third of the book. I have to say what happened to Beth was an utter surprise and I did not see it coming but I could not say the same about the other major revelation. As the author goes through everything I had realised long before (even though the way things were said back then were not that accurate to throw the read off) and was so miffed that Melanie didn’t at the time, once again I felt my attention drift and the urge to skim through the text became difficult to resist.

Also, it felt so pointless. Just a plot device for a book that wants to take on too much and show why the main character would devolve like that but it just felt like filler.
In the end, even though there were quite a few good things about The Darkest Lies, I found the build-up tepid and that the subplot contributed in a negative manner to the story, which made me finish the book with a bittersweet feeling.

Disclaimer: I would like to thank the publisher and Netgalley for providing me a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Read from May 8th to May 13th, 2017
GR Review

The Follower

Title: The Follower

Author: Koethi Zan

Genres: Crime | Psychological Thriller

Length: 432 pages | 4807 Kindle locations

Source: Netgalley

Publisher: Random House UK, Vintage Publishing

Publishing Date: May 18th, 2017

Rating: 2/5

Premise:

Julie had the perfect life. But one day she is abducted and everything changes.
Julie does not understand why the wife of her kidnapper endures his demeaning attitude towards her and begins trying to win her over. But is that possible? What secrets is Cora hiding?

Review:

Ah, this book… It had such an interesting premise. A victim and two perpetrators. Can she get out of the situation?
Sadly, it didn’t work for me.

As we accompany Julie through the time of her confinement, the narrative is interspersed with snippets of Cora’s life as she grow up, so it became clear early on that this was as much about Julie’s resilience as it was trying to figure out how someone like Cora becomes who she is. That was all well and good.

However, I found it confusing and that it dragged on. I soon grew tired of it as, although Cora’s memories were interesting, they just weren’t enough to pull me in.

I didn’t get Adam’s character and to be honest he annoyed the heck out of me. Stupid decision after stupid decision, it was just overwhelming. I found my attention wandering during his chapters and only found solace when the stuff he uncovered met with Cora’s account of the past.

On the other hand, what I really wanted to know, which was what made the bad guy be that way and where his religious paranoia came from, was never explained. And although the author tried to justify Cora’s descent into James’ craziness I for one didn’t buy it; one minute she finds him a dangerous nutcase and the next she is following him and slowly after fully believing what she had previously seen as crap.

The ending was beyond rushed and by that time I couldn’t stand any of the characters.

Sorry, can’t say I recommend this one.

Disclaimer: I would like to thank the publisher and Netgalley for providing me a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Read from May 4th to May 7th, 2017
GR Review

The Girlfriend

Title: The Girlfriend

Author: Michelle Frances

Genres: Psychological Thriller

Length: 352 pages | 4326 Kindle locations

Source: Netgalley

Publisher: Pan Macmillan

Publishing Date: April 20th, 2017

Rating: 4.25/5

Premise:

Laura is a very lucky woman. Rich, has a job she utterly loves and a son who is her pride and joy.
One day, Daniel mentions he has a new girlfriend. Laura vows to do her best to welcome her because she wants her son to be happy.
As time passes, Laura senses that something is off with Cherry and the sense of unease is reciprocate. Cherry is determined to be happy with Daniel and that does not include her mother.
In desperation, Laura tells a lie that will change everything. How far will these women go to keep Daniel in her lives?

Review:

The Girlfriend started well enough for me. I found all characters very interesting and believable. The author did a good job of creating an extremely privileged family that is still relateable.

There were a couple of things here and there that I felt were plot devices, like the car. Right at the beginning, why did Daniel have to lend it to Cherry, why not just drop her off at work if his concern was for her not to be late as he put it? And later, why did Laura’s personal assistant change? If that person wasn’t new there is no way that stuff would have happened and there doesn’t even seem to be a reason for Willow’s appearance.

I wasn’t as happy with Daniel’s character as with the others because he had to behave a certain way for things to advance the way they did. I still don’t get why, with such a close relationship with his mother, he was able to spend so long without speaking to her. When was he willing to speak to her, his wedding day?

However, other characters were a pleasure to read about and they were so varied in their backgrounds that they brought a live dynamic to the story. I especially liked Cherry’s mother and Howard. They felt the most real to me.

I was mesmerised at the dynamic between Laura and Cherry and at their inner thoughts, justifying their actions to themselves. I could see why each had their prickle of annoyance towards the other and, as things escalated, I could totally see why it happened, despite the few plot devices mentioned above.

The Girlfriend can be quite dark and heavy at times and you can’t help but wonder how much further any of that will go. I did find it engrossing. The character building is the best I have read in a while. You actually get these people, where they come from, why they do what they do and why they find it justifiable.
The book is quite well-written and I think it has good chances of becoming one of the best psychological thrillers of the year.

Disclaimer: I would like to thank the publisher and Netgalley for providing me a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Read from Apr 17th to Apr 22nd, 2017
GR Review

The Lost Children (Detective Lucy Harwin #1)

Title: The Lost Children (Detective Lucy Harwin #1)

Author: Helen Phifer

Genres: Crime | Psychological Thriller

Length: 320 pages | 4066 locations

Source: Negalley

Publisher: Bookouture

Publishing Date: March 24th, 2017

Rating: 2.5/5

Premise:

Lucy’s return to the police force is anticipated when a body is discovered in a terrible state.
Why was he found on the grounds of the town’s old asylum? Is there a connection to the horrid things that happened there all those years ago?

Review:

So we have another detective series beginning, this time featuring DI Lucy Harwin. I did not find her particularly likeable or otherwise; to be honest, she seemed kind of bland to me. Just your average single cop who lives for her job and goes home to ready made meals and a bottle of wine or vodka.

There was one thing that kept bugging me – Lucy is made to have this terrific sixth sense when really it’s all conjecture and the only way the reader can buy it is because she says those things after we know the killer’s perspective and therefore what exactly happened. Her ‘gut feeling’ is always on the money, even though there is nothing much to support it (example: an open gate).

The book focuses a lot on Lucy and her sidekick Mattie. When that happened I sped read because I wanted to get to the juicy bits and I found those utterly uninteresting. The blurb got to me with the mention of the asylum and I really wanted to learn more about that part. I wish it had been more developed.

I thought certain things were unnecessary clichés, like Mattie’s crush on her. Also, when well used, I don’t even notice swearing in the books, but here it felt completely out of place and unnatural.

I liked the structure of the narrative. The timeline switches between 1975 at the asylum and present day and there are a couple of entries from our killer after the crimes have been committed, which brings the reader a nice perspective. The story flows fairly well, slowly connecting the dots, though a bit slow-paced for my taste because there were just some things I did not appreciate and wanted to move on.

There are several red herrings, some don’t tie that well in the end, several things are unnecessarily repeated (like the mentions of Isabella and her mother) and the ending felt rushed. Although there are some exciting bits my overall assessment is that, considering the amount of series of the sort that are out there and done in a more appealing manner (to me at least), I do not intend to follow this one.

Disclaimer: I would like to thank the publisher and Netgalley for providing me a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Read from Apr 14th to Apr 17th, 2017
GR Review

The Breakdown

Title: The Breakdown

Author: B.A. Paris

Genres: Psychological Thriller

Length: 336 pages | 3364 Kindle locations

Source: Netgalley

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Publishing Date: June 20th, 2017
 
Rating: 2.5/5

Premise:

During a storm, Cass makes a decision not to assist a woman whose car appears to have broke down in of a deserted road in the middle of the woods.
That decision will chase her for the rest of her life.
Also, why is she experiencing memory loss?
Can the two be connected?

Review:

I could tell based on ratings that this is one of those books that people either love or hate. Though I didn’t hate it, I could have done without reading it.

I had a lot of trouble with suspension of disbelief. I struggled to stay interested in the narrative when our main character has so serious memory issues that she just chooses to ignore because she is afraid. She goes through stuff, worries about her state of mind, vents to her husband, and that’s it. She is obviously distraught but neither her husband nor best friend seem to realise it or if they do they just downplay it and shrug it off. And she never turns to anyone else.

So for at least three quarters of the book we are presented with situation after situation where Cass can’t remember things right. And it’s not like there was much of an end goal in sight other than time to go back to work approaching, but even that isn’t mentioned much. So it all felt rather pointless.

It annoyed me because the writing was very engaging, other than the whining protagonist, and I was sure that by the time the book ended it would all make sense and wrap up nicely – which it did. But there was nothing during the large majority of the book to make me interested in what happened. It was just… stuff, you know?

I wonder how much longer the book would have gone on had our main character not stumbled upon the truth accidentally, or rather had it handed to her (literally). Also, it doesn’t make sense that Rachel would tell her about the row in the parking lot. Or that she didn’t mention it to the police when interviewed. With so much at stake it just doesn’t make sense that she would mention that. There’s just too much fitting it too perfectly and we are supposed to believe that it was Jane guiding the events?

So I am still struggling to figure out the point of everything up until that point, which felt rushed due to all the luck involved.

Also, for so long we are presented to this scared person who just gives in. And yet she has the mind to plot all that after she finds out. Even after confessing she was scared to death she wouldn’t make it through the night. It just doesn’t make sense!

As you can see, there isn’t much I can say about why I am not a fan of this book without writing spoilers so I will just say that The Breakdown has its qualities, for sure, particularly the writing, and it is quite different from what is out there. However, as far as the story and characters go I was just not content.

Disclaimer: I would like to thank the publisher and Netgalley for providing me a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Read from Mar 16th to Mar 19th, 2017
GR Review

Little Girl Lost (DI Robyn Carter #1)

Title: Little Girl Lost (DI Robyn Carter #1)

Author: Carol Wyer

Genres: Psychological Thriller

Length: 412 pages | 5551 locations

Source: Netgalley

Format: Mobi

Rating: 4.5/5

 

Premise:

An 8 year-old-girl goes through a traumatic experience and no one protects her.
A 60 year-old millionaire shows up dead.
A woman is receiving veiled threats about keeping secrets and insinuations that her husband is cheating.
How do these three stories relate?

Review:

Little Girl Lost got me from the first line. That prologue had me gripping my Kindle.

Then we meet our DI, who is working for a private investigation company. I immediately liked her.

She was a results woman. She would catch this guy no matter how long it took to collect the evidence.

Yes, we are told that she is patient and persistent, but more importantly we are shown that through her actions.

There are a few things that I wasn’t sold on: The child voice did not seem that age. Some things didn’t make sense to me like Abigail not trusting that she saw something or heard certain things. I would have to be really messed up to think that, and she was lucid on a couple of occasions. And there were several other details like during the first phone call the perp was supposedly holding a baby and there were no noise at all to indicate that; also, it shouldn’t be that hard for the police to get ahold of the approximate location of a subject using their phone; and the death of Paul was related before Christina’s, which is not chronologically correct.

There were surprisingly little repetitions. Other than variations of Jackson not knowing Abigail’s secrets and that he was really good at solving puzzles, I don’t remember much.

There isn’t a lot I can tell you without giving away the story. Little Girl Lost is full of twists and turns that will set your head spinning and have you turning the pages as quickly as you can.
I had a clue of who was who but I was never 100% sure because the narrative is ambiguous like that, and I really love that, that I was able to put 2 and 2 together but that it wasn’t too obvious – and also that those things that I didn’t get by then didn’t feel under-explained afterwards, which happens to me frequently, endings getting rushed.

I would actually have been happy with the story finishing at like 80%. It felt like the book dragged on a bit after that, especially in the last 10 percent, although there were still plenty of revelations and tension.

Highly recommended, a gem amongst others of the genre. I will definitely be looking out for this author in the future.

Disclaimer: I would like to thank the publisher and Netgalley for providing me a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Read from Feb 12th to Feb 14th, 2017
GR Review

Blink

Title: Blink

Author: K.L. Slater

Genres: Psychological Thriller

Length: 295 pages | 4058 locations

Source: Netgalley

Format: Mobi

Rating: 3.5/5

 

Premise:

Three years ago, Toni’s daughter Evie’s disappeared without a trace.
It takes lying in a bed fully aware without being able to move to bring some insight into what happened all that time ago.

Review:

I struggled with suspension of belief on this one. I just did not get how someone could be fully conscious and no doctors realise it. Surely there are brain exams that were performed where the brain activity would be noticeable? Also, she needs a machine to breathe for her but somehow she is able to identify scents and she has her eyes open (who has their eyes open in a vegetative state??) and is able to focus on details such as a doctor’s open pores but no change occurs in her eyes?

It took me a while to warm up to it but once I did, about halfway in or so, I flipped the pages as quickly as I could. I enjoyed how the narrative was presented, with different voices – even little Evie’s – and mysterious character(s). The suspense built up.

Then at the beginning of the last fifth of the story we get the much advertised shocking plot twist (I truly dislike seeing that by the way, it was even in my ARC book title).
It is shocking indeed but I for one did not find it believable at all. There was nothing in that character’s past or later explained that would justify that she would view Evie as her own. Actually, pretty much the only background we get is that she had money issues.

Only when I got to the end did I notice I had read a previous novel by the same author and had felt pretty much the same. The books are so emotionally and psychologically charged that the characters’ actions need to be properly backed up and I just don’t feel it happens. It’s almost as if the book is done for shock purpose, all explanations for what had happened felt that way, as well as extremely rushed, and I have to say I don’t really appreciate that.

Still, Blink was very exciting at some points so even though I was not entirely sold I am rating it up.

Disclaimer: I would like to thank the publisher and Netgalley for providing me a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Read from Jan 31st to Feb 3rd, 2017
GR Review

Never Out of Sight

Title: Never Out of Sight

Author: Louise Stone

Genres: Psychological Thriller

Length: 320 pages | 3579 locations

Source: Netgalley

Format: Mobi

Rating: 4/5

 

Premise:

Freya’s daughter is missing. And now she is torn between telling the truth about where she was and keeping her secret, which would devastate her life as well as those around her. It couldn’t possibly be relevant to Zoe’s disappearance… Right?

Review:

Never Out of Sight gripped me because I felt that this could happen to anyone.

Freya is a woman approaching 50 who is searching for the woman she once was. When she finds a way to do just that, she does not realise how much that affects her life and those in it.
Now her daughter is missing.

As the narrative advances, we watch Freya unravel as she realises she doesn’t really know her own daughter. I was torn between feeling sorry for her and judging her for being so focused on herself and all the self-wallowing, until I reached that conclusion that it really could happen to everyone. If you don’t pay attention, life just goes by, and those who you take for granted may not be there one day and then it is too late to say you love them.

Therefore, this was thought-provoking and heartbreaking. I did feel however that the book got a bit repetitive. Things kept being said over and over as if it was the first time, like when Freya talks about her own parents not showing her love, for instance. When that happened I felt the book dragged on a bit and became uninterested.

It was still very exciting for the most part, though, and even if I had somewhat anticipated what had happened and a couple of things felt off-character, there were still plenty of surprises towards the chilling end. This was a thrilling read and I recommend it.

Disclaimer: I would like to thank the publisher and Netgalley for providing me a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Read from Jan 28th to Jan 29th, 2017
GR Review

The Fire Child

Title: The Fire Child

Author: S.K. Tremayne

Genres: Mystery | Psychological Thriller | Thriller

Length: 400 pages | 4007 locations

Source: Netgalley

Format: Mobi

Rating: 3/5

 

Premise:

Rachel moves in to her secluded new home, after having recently married 10 year older David Krethen.
Her stepson acts weirdly and there seem to be too many secrets that no one is willing to talk about.
Is she safe?
What really happened to David’s first wife?

Review:

The Fire Child left me with a bittersweet feeling, much like the author’s previous novel, The Ice Twins. Even the setting was similar.

First of all, when a book requires too much suspension of disbelief I just cannot seem to enjoy it much, no matter how well it is written. Rachel put me off from the beginning. I did not get why she married David so soon, especially since she described herself as an independent feminist. Sure, she can feel attracted to the guy but marry him and give everything up in the span of a few months? Or one month, I think I read somewhere.

She just felt jaded. Like in this quote:
“See you for dinner. You’re a great sitter.”
He kisses me softly before striding away, around the house, heading for his car, calling out for Jamie. Like we are already a family. Safe and happy.

He described her basically as his kid’s babysitter and she says she feels part of the family? I don’t get it.

There were other details, of course, like the maid having lived there for 10 years and at 32 years old still not being able to speak an entire sentence of proper English, let alone have a chat with Rachel.
In order for events to unfold the way they did, our main character had to be isolated and this just felt like a cop-out. I meant, at the very least make her older so she would have more trouble learning a new language or something.

The Fire Child was an intense thriller at times, while at others it got repetitive and I felt that it dragged on. I have read plenty of dark books and have enjoyed probably the large majority of them, but this just felt bleak and desolate for pretty much the entire time. I was confused, annoyed (I could not take one more line of Jamie wanting his mother and then not wanting her anymore because he was scared and then wanting her again) and finished the book beyond disappointed at the wrap-up.

Sure, there is plenty food for thought but it just felt rushed and not believable at all.
I do think that many people will love this novel but the more I think about it the more I realise that there were indeed several isolated episodes where I kept flipping the pages as quickly as I could but, as a whole, the story just did not satisfy me.

Disclaimer: I would like to thank the publisher and Netgalley for providing me a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Read from Jan 17th to Jan 21st, 2017
GR Review

An Intimate Obsession

Title: An Intimate Obsession

Author: Elizabeth McGregor

Genres: Psychological Thriller

Length: 360 pages | 4519 Locations

Source: Netgalley

Format: Mobi

Rating: 3.75/5

Premise:

Eve’s neighbour Hugh Scott comes to her aid just when she needed, when she just could not take her cold, even cruel father who suffers from Alzheimer’s any longer. But Hugh makes her uncomfortable, for some reason she cannot place.
Eve does not know that Hugh Scott obsesses over her. Nor how far he will go to make her his. Especially when thoughtful and caring 19-year-old Jonathan Davies comes into the picture.

Review:

An Intimate Obsession is a very tense thriller.

I always had an issue with the characters – in particular, Eve struck me as too nonchalant or more naive than possible. I often wondered how she could take care of her father like that, considering how he acted while she was growing up. On the other hand, Jon did not sound 19 at all, especially in the beginning.

However, they are all very well developed, have multiple sides to them and evolve in a deep manner. The psychological charge is just so intense in this book. The highlight for me was definitely the interaction between Hugh and Bill. Both of them shocked and repulsed me, which completely gripped my attention.

From then point on though, I felt like the book dragged on quite a bit. The fact is the most fascinating part for me had passed. It was interesting seeing a character devolve so much in the last chapters but it paled in comparison to what I had felt reading that one scene.

An Intimate Obsession is better than any psychological thrillers I have read lately so I do recommend it.

Disclaimer: I would like to thank the publisher and Netgalley for providing me a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Read from Dec 20th to Dec 25th, 2016

GR Review

Safe With Me

Title: Safe With Me

Author: K.L. Slater

Genres: Mystery | Psychological Thriller

Length: 324 pages | 4829 Locations

Source: Netgalley

Format: Mobi

Rating: 3/5

Premise:

Thirteen years ago after ruining her life, Anna sees the woman who caused it all.
She views it as a sign and starts plotting her revenge.
But what really happened back then? And is Anna able to tell the good guys from the bad guys?

Review:

Safe With Me started fairly surreptitiously. You can tell something is off with Anna and as the narrative evolves you get to see just how much. The more I read the more I though that if this was the victim, I did not want to meet the perpetrator.

Getting into the mind of Anna was quite disturbing and definitely the highlight of the novel. However, that by itself does not sustain a book and I did feel the pace lacking throughout most of it.

There are quite a few things going on, both in present day and in the past, 13 years prior to the narrative. Mostly we read Anna’s side, told in first person, but there are chapters referring to her neighbour Mrs Peat, Carla Bevin and an unknown person.

Things do wrap up in the end but I felt it took too long for them to click into place and that a lot of what happened before the climax did not really add much to the story, so I was actually bored at times.
On the other hand, things that were said to lead the reader a certain direction were not followed upon, so even though the main events are explained in the end other things felt rushed and I wished I had closure for them.

And then there were some episodes that did not make much sense, like a triage nurse wasting so much time with a patient and actually tending to their injury. I don’t know how it’s done in the UK but here they want the quick run through of the patient’s symptoms, assign them a colour correspondent to the urgency degree and off they go.

Also there was a crucial thing in my opinion, which was Anna saying Today is my thirty-third birthday and 13 years ago she was said to be 15, so the math does not add up.

Finally, if there’s one thing I dislike is that the title of the book does not connect to the story in a clear manner, which happens here.

Overall I would say this book is definitely unique on the psychological side but the pace threw me off, and the resolution took too long and felt rushed.

Disclaimer: I would like to thank the publisher and Netgalley for providing me a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Read from Nov 20th to Nov 24th, 2016

GR Review