Review: ‘Here To Stay’ by Mark Edwards⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

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SYNOPSIS:

A beautiful home. A loving wife. And in-laws to die for.

Gemma Robinson comes into Elliot’s life like a whirlwind, and they marry and settle down into his home. When she asks him if her parents can come to stay for a couple of weeks, he is keen to oblige – he just doesn’t quite know what he’s signing up for. 

The Robinsons arrive with Gemma’s sister, Chloe, a mysterious young woman who refuses to speak or leave her room. Elliot starts to suspect that the Robinsons are hiding a dark secret. And then there are scars on his wife’s body she won’t talk about.

As Elliot’s in-laws become more comfortable in their new home, encroaching on all aspects of his life, it becomes clear they have no intention of moving out. To protect Gemma, and their marriage, Elliot delves into the Robinsons’ past. But is he prepared for the truth?

From the two million copy bestselling author comes a tale about the chilling consequences of  welcoming strangers into your home.

REVIEW:

Another nail-biting, chilling tale of domestic noir from the man that Jennifer Hillier has rightly crowned “The King of domestic horror”.

Elliot Foster and Gemma Robinson meet one summer afternoon. She saves his life after a near-fatal bee sting and they fall hard and fast, marrying just two months later in Vegas. Elliot couldn’t be happier.

A few weeks after their wedding Gemma tells Elliot that her parents are moving back to the UK and asks if they can stay with them for a few weeks?  Wanting to make his new wife happy, and to meet his new in-laws, Elliot agrees. It will be the biggest mistake he ever makes.

This book is AMAZING! It started off slowly and while I was enjoying it, I didn’t foresee just how horrifying, mind-blowing and simply incredible it would become. Though this being Mark Edwards I am also not surprised. Full disclosure: I am a huge fan of this author. Ever since I first read The Retreat last summer , which I loved the nod to in this novel, I haven’t been able to get enough of his books. The Magpies trilogy is considered his greatest work, and it’s antagonist, Lucy Newton, is one of the greatest villains I’ve read. But this story and it’s villains give them both a run for their money.

Do you think you’ve got the in-laws from hell? Well Elliot’s are probably worse. I know I’d happily take my awful ex-mother-in-law over them any day! Jeff and Lizzy Robinson are two of the most despicable, repulsive, noxious, contemptible, foul and vile people I’ve ever had the displeasure of reading about. They turn Elliot’s world upside down and inside out. They seem determined to not only take his home but destroy his entire life. It got me so angry reading how they behaved. 

Elliot is the all-round nice guy. He’s worked hard and made a good life for himself, runs a non-profit working with underprivileged kids, thinks of others, is kind-hearted, and has finally met the woman of his dreams. Then the Robinsons threaten to take it all away. He gives them the benefit of the doubt over again, tell himself his suspicions are crazy and finds rational explanations for things. And every time they then do something even worse. I didn’t judge Elliot for some of his fantasies about what he’d like to do to them. I understood. How could you not loathe such toxic people.

The Robinson siblings are the mysterious characters, especially Chloe who is deathly ill and locks herself away when they first move in. They all seem frightened of their parents are secretive about their childhood and what exactly has happened to make them all so scared. Though Gemma and Elliot are married it was all so fast he barely knows her, or her past, and as the story unfolds he realises just how little he knew before making such a big commitment and inviting her family to stay with them.

I don’t want to give any details away as the shocks add to the escalating horror and brilliance of this book. I highly recommend this edge-of-your-seat thriller; just be warned that it’s a turbulent ride. And another thing…be careful who you invite to stay in your house. They just might never leave…

Thank you to Mark Edwards, Amazon Publishing UK and NetGalley for the chance to read this novel in exchange for an honest review.

Publication Date: September 1st

 

 

Review: ‘Stone Cold Heart’ by Caz Frear ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

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SYNOPSIS:

A fractured marriage.

A silent family.

A secret that connects them all.

When DC Cat Kinsella is approached by Joseph Madden for help with his wife, Rachel, there’s not much she can do. Joseph claims that Rachel has been threatening him, but can’t – or won’t – give Cat details as to why. Dismissing it as a marriage on the rocks, Cat forgets about it.

That is until Naomi Lockhart, a young PA, is found dead after a party attended by both Joseph and Rachel and Joseph is arrested for the murder. Joseph says his wife is setting him up. His wife says he didn’t do it. The trail of evidence leads to even more questions…

Adulterer. Murderer. Victim.*

Who would you believe?

REVIEW:

Wow! Jaw-dropping and addictive, I absolutely loved this book and knew I was in for a great read as soon as I read the prologue. Ms Frear has a new fan in this reader after this tantilising thriller.

Twenty-two year old Naomi Lockhart is found dead by her housemate. She was last seen at a party at her boss’s house Saturday night and has been missing from work the last two days. DC Cat Kinsella and Murder Investigation Team 4 are called in to investigate and quickly learn that she died not long after the party. The evidence leads them to a suspect: Joseph Madden, the brother-in-law of Naomi’s boss. He’s not a stranger to Cat, he owns a local coffee house and even spoke to her a few months ago claiming his wife, Rachel, is threatening him and asking what he can do about it. At the time Cat viewed it as overblown marriage woes, but now he’s claiming Rachel is framing him for murder. Rachel is clearly terrified of her husband and does nothing but protest his innocence and Joseph’s claims seem like nothing but a desperate way to put the blame elsewhere.

Information trickles slowly and reluctantly from their witnesses, frustrating the police but making for an electrifying read. Is Joseph capable of murder? Is he their man? As things are revealed Cat is reluctantly dubious and it seems their witnesses are all keeping more secrets that are yet to be told. Who killed Naomi?

Cat Kinsella is a unique protagonist. She, and this book, stands out in the sea of police procedurals because of her flawed and complex character. She breaks the rules, keeps secrets and has told many lies, has a shady family, is dating someone she shouldn’t, and yet she is someone we love and can root for despite all her mistakes. I wanted her to win. I wanted her to conquer her shame of where she’s from and the toxic family she was raised in. I want her inappropriate relationship to work. She was wonderfully written and I enjoyed every minute I spent reading her.

One of the things I enjoyed about this novel was the array of unreliable and morally ambiguous characters, including almost every witness. I found myself both loving and hating so many of them and could never quite be sure what the truth was or what side they were on, other than their own, of course. Joseph Madden was a perfectly written narcissistic abuser. He made my blood run cold from his first appearance and I desperately wanted him to be guilty simply because he was such a vile person. With Rachel the author depicted the terror, shame and guilt of an abused partner in a realistic way. Your heart breaks for her over and again and you just want to make her see sense and get away from her destructive relationship.

I didn’t realise before starting that this was book two in a series. It didn’t affect my enjoyment of it though as the author not only gave enough information to catch you up on events as needed, but it all sounds so juicy that she sold the book to me while I was reading and I immediately bought it when I finished. I loved the author’s writing style, particularly the banter between Cat and her colleagues and the wit that had me laughing out loud on many occasions.

The final part of this fabulous, twisty thriller had me on tenterhooks wondering who did what and reeling from each bombshell. After the shocking concluding sentences, I am now impatiently waiting for book three and to find out what is next for Cat. I can’t recommend this book or this author highly enough.

Thank you to NetGalley, Bonnier Zaffre and Caz Frear for the chance to read this novel in exchange for an honest review.

Publication Date: June 27th.

 

Publication Day Review: ‘The Whisper Man’ by Alex North ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

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Happy Publication Day to Alex North and his chilling thriller.

SYNOPSIS:

If you leave a door half-open, soon you’ll hear the whispers spoken…

Still devastated after the loss of his wife, Tom Kennedy, and his young son Jake, move to the sleepy village of Featherbank looking for a fresh start.

But Featherbank has a dark past. Fifteen years ago a twisted serial killer abducted and murdered five young boys. Until he was finally caught the killer was known as ‘The Whisper Man’.

Of course, an old crime need not trouble Tom and Jake as they try to settle in to their new house. Except that now another boy has gone missing. And then Jake begins acting strangely.

He says he hears whispering at his window…

MY REVIEW:

“If you leave a door half-open, soon you’ll hear the whispers spoken…If you’re lonely, sad and blue, the Whisper Man will come for you”

A boy who hears whispers from people no one else can see echoes the spine-chilling moment in The Sixth Sense when Haley Joel Osment’s character utters the immortal words “I see dead people” in this eerie, menacing, unsettling and sinister novel. This is a book you do not want to read at night!

Six-year-old Neil Spencer disappears when walking home one summer evening. An extensive search yields no clues until Neil’s mother remembers him mentioning whispering outside his window one night. This revelation terrifies Featherbank detectives as the town is still haunted by Frank Carter, a local man who abducted and killed five young boys in 20 years ago. He is also known as the Whisper Man. His final victim’s body was never recovered and there were rumours of an accomplice. Could that be who abducted Neil?

Tom Kennedy and his son, Jake, are looking for a fresh start after the death of Tom’s wife the year before. Tom feels he is failing as a father and that he and Jake are drifting further apart. He’s hoping moving will change that. But it seems their problems have followed them, and the gulf between them only widens and the worrying incidents only increase after they move into the strange new house in Featherbank. With Jake hearing whispers and talking about things he shouldn’t know there’s undertones of something  malevolent lurking in the shadows of the Kennedy home.

I was hooked from the foreboding prologue right until the very last page of this book. The two main characters were well written: Tom is the grieving widower who is struggling to connect with his son in his own grief and also trying to evade the pain of his own childhood. He wishes his son was more “normal” and worries about him being too sensitive. Jake is a lonely child who is scrambling to make sense of the grief,emptiness and fear he feels after his mother’s death. He feels his dad doesn’t like him and takes solace in imaginary friends and his special things. For a lot of the book it isn’t clear how Tom and Jake are connected to the Whisper Man storyline and Neil’s disappearance, and I loved trying to find clues to figure out where the story would go next. I was usually wrong.

The Whisper Man is an exquisite, multi-layered, chilling and emotional novel. There were many twists and turns, some so jarring and unexpected I could only sit there in shock. Spectacularly written, this is a tense and haunting thriller that you don’t want to miss.

Out today.

Thank you to NetGalley, Penguin UK, Michael Joseph and Alex North for the chance to read this novel in exchange for an honest review.

Review: ‘Favourite Daughter’ by Kaira Rouda ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

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One of them lied. One of them died.

Jane’s life has become a haze of antidepressants since the tragic death of her daughter, Mary. The accident, which happened a year ago now, destroyed their perfect family life forever.

The trouble is, the more Jane thinks about that night, the more that she realises that something doesn’t seem right. Does her youngest daughter know more than she’s letting on? What secrets is her husband still hiding from her? And why does no one trust her on her own?

Even if it’s the last thing she does, she’ll find out the truth.

 

Told from the perspective of Jane, a twisted and delusional Orange County housewife, this book is like going inside the mind of the epitome of a narcissist and sociopath. A delicious delight to read, but a toxic nightmare to those around her, I loved every second inside Jane’s mind. The author has written what I think is one of the most addictive thrillers of the year.

It’s been a year since Mary, the perfect daughter in the Harris family, fell to her death in a tragic accident. In that time her mother Jane has been unable to deal with her life and just trying to survive each day surrounded by the fog of grief that engulfs her. Her husband, David, and disappointing younger daughter, Betsy, are barely around and she feels abandoned. The only people that listen are her psychologist and the Lyft driver who takes her to her errands and appointments. On the first anniversary of Mary’s death she receives an anonymous note that reads: MARY’S DEATH WAS NOT AN ACCIDENT. JUST ASK BETSY. Jane immediately believes her secretive daughter is hiding something, she’s just like her cheating father after all, and starts in motion of revenge for their betrayal and justice for the death of the favourite daughter.

Oh Jane. Controlling, manipulative, condescending, demanding and crazy Jane. She is one of the most unapologetically awful people I’ve ever read and, in a strange way, I adored her as much as I despised her. At the beginning she seems to be a sympathetic character: her daughter died, her husband is hardly home and is clearly cheating on her, and she’s isolated. But it doesn’t take long for her to show her true, ugly, colours. She has a justification for every action, lies without a second thought and takes joy in plotting revenge to ruin the lives of those she believes have betrayed her. Jane gets what she wants and will lie or take out anyone who gets in her way without a hint of remorse. She has a warped idea of what it means to be a good mother and if you google “how not to be a good mother” there is probably a list of everything Jane does. If there isn’t then there should be.

Favourite Daughter is a definite page-tuner and I couldn’t tear myself away once I began reading. I loved how the author had Jane talk directly to the reader, almost as if we’re friends. It was a great tool in showing the extent of her delusion and connecting us with her. Thought I saw a number of things coming it didn’t take away from the enjoyment of the book as how things were revealed to Jane and her reaction to them was fun to read. It is a testament to this author’s talent that she was able to create someone who encompasses such narcissistic and sociopathic traits but still manages to evoke sympathy from the reader. Ms Rouda has found herself a new fan that is going to buy her first book as soon as I finish writing this.

Thank  you to NetGalley, HQ and Kaira Rouda for the chance to read this novel in exchange for an honest review.

Out Now.

Review: ‘The Last Widow’ by Karin Slaughter ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

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Michelle felt her mouth drop open.

A van slid to a stop besides her daughter.The side door rolled open.

A man jumped out.

Michelle gripped her keys. She bolted into a full-ou run, cutting the distance between herself and her daughter. She started to scream, but it was too late.

Ashley had run off, just like they had taught her to do. Which was fine, because the man did not want Ashley.

He wanted Michelle.

Thank you to HarperCollins UK, Netgalley and Karin Slaughter for the chance to read this novel in exchange for an honest review.

An exciting, absorbing and frighteningly real thriller, this novel is an example of why Ms Slaughter is one of the world’s most acclaimed authors.

Told in the third person with multiple narrators, the story begins with the abduction of Michelle Spivey in a shopping centre car park. It then jumps forward to a month later and the rest of the book takes place over a tense three days.

Two explosions rock the Emory University Campus. Will Trent, a special agent with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, and girlfriend Sara Linton, a doctor and medical examiner with the GBI, race to help after feeling the earth shake and seeing the plumes of smoke rise. On their way there they come across a car accident and stop to help. Too late they realise these aren’t innocent victims, they’re part of the team who attacked the campus. Not only that but with them is Michelle Spivey who is terrified and bleeding. In the ensuing fight Will is seriously injured and Sara is taken.

But why is the FBI so tight lipped about what they know? What are the Independent Patriot Army planning? Why do they need Michelle, a scientist with the Centres for Disease Control? Finding themselves embroiled in the complex case, the team race against the clock to save Sara, rescue Michelle, and prevent whatever atrocity the IPA has planned.

Wow! I needed some time to catch my breath after finishing this book. It was quite a ride. The multilayered plot deals with topical threats and issues that give the book an added sense of realism and made it a chilling read.

The characters were well written and very real. I loved Sara, Will and Faith and thought they each added different but complementary aspects to the story. The relationship between Sara and Will helped create an extra layer of desperation and tension that I enjoyed too. When it comes to protagonists Dash and Gwen are two of the most despicable people I’ve read. Their callous, cruel, deluded and reprehensible actions and beliefs made them hard to read at times but also very real. They are exactly the kind of people you can believe would get caught up in such cowardly and heinous acts. The ones I felt pity for were their children and the young, vulnerable people they’d manage to convince to follow them and were entangled in things they didn’t really understand.

When I requested this book I didn’t realise it was part of the Will Trent series, which I’d heard of but never got around to reading. Despite not having read the previous eight books in the series I never felt like I was missing anything as there is enough backstory given that you understand the relationships and what has led to this point in the character’s stories. That being said, I would no doubt have had a deeper understanding of the characters and past events if I’d read the other books and reading this has made me even more eager to read the series from the start.

The Last Widow is expertly written and thoroughly researched. It is a story told with candor and a spectacular, absorbing, eye-opening, intelligent and affecting thriller. Despite the dark and serious topics there is humour woven throughout the book and there were many scenes that had me laughing out loud, as well as ones that were harrowing and heartbreaking. I raced through this book and found myself unable to tear myself away. I was desperate to discover the answers to my questions and see how it would end.

I have been a fan of Karin Slaughter since I read Blindsighted many years ago, but I haven’t read any of her books in a while. This book reminded me why I love her work and I now want to read everything she’s written as soon as possible.

Published June 13th