The New Neighbors by Simon Lelic

Berkley Trade Paperback Original; April 10, 2018; $16

Description:

The Girl Before meets The Couple Next Door in an utterly satisfying Hitchcockian story about a couple who moves into their dream neighborhood only to discover nothing is as it seems…

The perfect couple. The perfect house. The perfect crime.

Londoners Jack and Syd found their dream home: lots of space, a great location, and a friendly owner who wanted a young couple to have it. 

Everything is exactly what they hoped for when they move in—except Jack makes a disturbing discovery in the attic, and Syd begins to wonder about the girl next door. And they each keep the other in the dark.

A mistake.

Because someone has just been killed outside their back door, and now the police are watching them. 

This is their chance to prove they’re innocent—or to get away with murder. 

Whose story do you believe?  (publisher)

My take: A couple in their late twenties have been saving for a house for a long time and looking for the right house even longer. When their low-ball offer on a house is accepted no one is more surprised than Jack and Syd. They celebrate and move in and begin to make it their own. Soon though things take a strange turn and life spins slowly out of control and their dream house turns into a nightmare.

I don’t want to risk spoilers so I’ll just say if domestic suspense thrillers are your thing you might want to read The New Neighbors. I liked it but have to say I was put off by a couple of characters who did things I abhorred and made me want to put the book down. Still, I read to the end because I needed the resolution.


 

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Spotlight/US Giveaway: Twist of Faith by Ellen J. Green

Description:

When family secrets are unearthed, a woman’s past can become a dangerous place to hide…

After the death of her adoptive mother, Ava Saunders comes upon a peculiar photograph, sealed and hidden away in a crawl space. The photo shows a shuttered, ramshackle house on top of a steep hill. On the back, a puzzling inscription: Destiny calls us.

Ava is certain that it’s a clue to her elusive past. Twenty-three years ago, she’d been found wrapped in a yellow blanket in the narthex of the Holy Saviour Catholic Church—and rescued—or so she’d been told. Her mother claimed there was no more to the story, so the questions of her abandonment were left unanswered. For Ava, now is the time to find the roots of her mother’s lies. It begins with the house itself—once the scene of a brutal double murder.

When Ava enlists the help of the two people closest to her, a police detective and her best friend, she fears that investigating her past could be a fatal mistake. Someone is following them there. And what’s been buried in Ava’s nightmares isn’t just a crime. It’s a holy conspiracy.


About the author:

Ellen J. Green was born and raised in Upstate New York. She moved to Philadelphia to attend Temple University, where she earned her degrees in psychology. She has worked in a maximum security correctional facility in the psychiatric ward for fifteen years. She also holds an MFA degree in creative writing from Fairleigh Dickinson University. The author of The Book of James, Ms. Green lives in southern New Jersey with her two children.


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Just Between Us by Rebecca Drake

  • Title:  Just Between Us
  • Author:  Rebecca Drake
  • Genre:  Thriller
  • Pages:  384
  • Published:  January 2018 – St. Martin’s Griffin
  • Source:  Publisher

Description:  Four suburban mothers conspire to cover up a deadly crime in Just Between Us, a heart-stopping novel of suspense by Rebecca Drake.

Alison, Julie, Sarah, Heather. Four friends living the suburban ideal. Their jobs are steady, their kids are healthy. They’re as beautiful as their houses. But each of them has a dirty little secret, and hidden behind the veneer of their perfect lives is a crime and a mystery that will consume them all.

Everything starts to unravel when Alison spots a nasty bruise on Heather’s wrist. She shares her suspicions with Julie and Sarah, compelling all three to investigate what looks like an increasingly violent marriage. As mysterious injuries and erratic behavior mount, Heather can no longer deny the abuse, but she refuses to leave her husband. Desperate to save her, Alison and the others dread the phone call telling them that she’s been killed. But when that call finally comes, it’s not Heather who’s dead. In a moment they’ll come to regret, the women must decide what lengths they’ll go to in order to help a friend.

Just Between Us is a thrilling glimpse into the underbelly of suburbia, where not all neighbors can be trusted, and even the closest friends keep dangerous secrets. You never really know what goes on in another person’s mind, or in their marriage.  (publisher)

My take:  This thriller had a rather slow start for me as the relationships between four friends, moms of young school-age kids, were established. About halfway in it took off like a rocket and didn’t slow down until the last couple of pages. I kind of liked that pace for this type of novel.

I could relate to the friendship that linked the women who wouldn’t know each other if their kids didn’t attend the same school. Happily, that’s pretty much where any similarity to me ended.

You may think you know a person who you see often. We all make assumptions from what we witness in our interactions – but are those assumptions the truth? These friends will find out as life changes abruptly when they act on assumptions. Since it’s a mystery/thriller I won’t go into specifics. If you enjoy domestic thrillers I think you should read Just Between Friends.


About the Author

Rebecca Drake is the author of the novels Don’t Be Afraid, The Next Killing, The Dead Place, which was an IMBA bestseller, and Only Ever You, as well as the short story “Loaded,” which was featured in Pittsburgh Noir. A graduate of Penn State University and former journalist, she is currently an instructor in Seton Hill University’s Writing Popular Fiction M.F.A. program. Rebecca lives in Pittsburgh, PA, with her husband and two children.

Author photo credit:  Joseph Mertz

Website: https://www.rebeccadrake.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/rebecca.drake.writer/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/AuthorRDrake


Praise for JUST BETWEEN US

“A twisty, domestic thriller […] tense, bombshell-laden, and action-packed.” — Publisher’s Weekly

“Female friendships flourish, then falter, under the weight of chance events underlaid by secrecy and deceit […] Drake shows a sure hand in spinning suburban thrillers.” —Booklist

“Fans of Liane Moriarty and B.A. Paris are going to love this twisty, diabolical suburban thriller. Clear your evening, you won’t be able to put it down.” — J.T. Ellison, New York Times bestselling author of Lie to Me

“Rebecca Drake’s Just Between Us is a stunner – a tense, twisty thriller about four ordinary women that begs the question: When a friend is in trouble, and all you want to do is help, how can everything go so terribly wrong?” — Karen Dionne, author The Marsh King’s Daughter

“Rebecca Drake’s Just Between Us is a riveting thriller that reveals the dark heart beating in the middle of American suburbia. Every character in this rich novel has a secret, and the secrets get deeper and darker as the pitch-perfect plot unfolds. This is a stunning story of friendship and the tangled lies that bind four women together. Don’t miss it!” — David Bell, author of Bring Her Home


Poison by Galt Niederhoffer

  • Title:  Poison
  • Author:  Galt Niederhoffer
  • Genre:  Thriller
  • Pages:  304
  • Published:  November 2017 – St. Martin’s Press
  • Source:  Publisher

Description:  Cass and Ryan Connor have achieved family nirvana. With three kids, a cat, and a yard, they are living the modern family dream. A recent move to Portland, Maine is the perfect fresh start – a fixer-upper Victorian, new jobs for Cass and Ryan, a good school for the kids, and the shimmering bay in sight. But trouble begins imperceptibly, first with the white lies told in every marital bedroom.

Was he really “stuck at the office”?

Did he delete a text?

The lies seem insignificant, but they are quickly followed by a swirl of denials, explanations, and confusion. The tables are turned.

Is he lying? Or am I losing my mind?

With life-and-death consequences, Poison is a chilling reminder that the ties that bind can also be instruments of torture. And that breaking trust is the most toxic betrayal of all. (publisher)

My take:  When widowed mother of two young children and former award-winning investigative reporter Cass meets Ryan he seems an answer to her prayers. After a whirlwind ‘courtship’ they marry and their son is born several months later. After a few concerning occurrences they move to Maine for a fresh beginning. Life is great. Until it isn’t. Cass has suspicions that something has flipped in their marriage.  Cass will find out just who (if anyone) she can trust and where she’ll get help for her dire situation. I thought the author did a good job building drama and even suspense. She makes her point of the challenges women face in the legal/criminal system. Most of the novel I wasn’t certain Cass was a reliable narrator – not because of what her husband said but because of her self-doubt. That bothered me but I’m guessing it’s not unusual for abused women to feel that way. Recommended to fans of psychological thrillers.


 

The Flight Attendant by Chris Bohjalian

  • Title:  The Flight Attendant
  • Author:  Chris Bohjalian
  • Genre:  Thriller
  • Pages:  368
  • Pub. Date:  March 2018 – Doubleday
  • Source:  Publisher; NetGalley

My take:  Cassie has been a flight attendant for a major airline for almost 20 years. She’s also a functioning alcoholic which has given her a reputation among her co-workers and the few friends she has. When she works the first class section on a flight to Dubai she meets a handsome and charming American hedge fund manager who she agrees to meet later at his hotel. That decision, followed by a series of really bad decisions, sets her life on an unexpected course that is in turn horrifying and intriguing.

Told mostly from Cassie’s (unreliable) perspective the novel made me feel anxious – and yet I couldn’t stop reading. I don’t want to risk a spoiler but I can say that if an international, of-the-moment thriller is a genre you enjoy you will want to read The Flight Attendant.


 

Spotlight/US Giveaway: Cold Harbor by Matthew FitzSimmons

Description:

A Wall Street Journal bestselling series.

After a period of brutal isolation in a CIA black-site prison, former Marine and gifted hacker Gibson Vaughn is free—but with no idea where he was or how much time he’s lost. Struggling to maintain his grip on reality, he races to return to the life he left behind. Angry and disoriented, his thoughts turn to vengeance and the man responsible for his rendition. But Gibson’s drive for retribution and the ghosts of his violent past plunge him back into a world he wants only to escape.

As old enemies and once-trusted allies resurface, the architects of a murderous conspiracy will beat a sinister path to Gibson’s doorstep. In discovering the shocking truth about those he thought he knew best, only one thing is certain: those responsible must be made to answer…and pay.


About the author:

Matthew FitzSimmons is the author of the bestselling Gibson Vaughn series, which includes The Short Drop and Poisonfeather. Born in Illinois and raised in London, England, he now lives in Washington, DC, where he taught English literature and theater at a private high school for more than a decade.


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Spotlight/US Giveaway: Next of Kin by James Tucker

Description:

A New Year’s Eve celebration begins with the pop of a champagne cork—and ends with the bone-chilling screams of a killer’s victims. Ten-year-old Ben Brook is the lone survivor of the brutal murder of his wealthy family at their upstate New York compound. But from the moment he evades death, Ben’s life is in constant danger. Can NYPD detective Buddy Lock keep the boy safe from a killer intent on wiping out the entire Brook clan?

When two more massacres decimate the Brookses’ ranks, Buddy’s hunt narrows. But his challenges grow as power, money, and secret crimes from the family’s past stand in the way. With Ben more and more at risk, Buddy steps closer to the edge, forcing a relentless killer to become more brazen, brutal, and cunning. Saving the boy will put all of Buddy’s skills to the test…and risk the lives of everyone he loves.


About the author:

James Tucker has worked as an attorney at an international law firm and is currently an executive managing real estate strategy at a Fortune 50 company, where his work includes frequent travel throughout the United States. Fascinated by the crimes of those in power, he draws on these cases for his writing. He has a law degree from the University of Minnesota Law School and was one of four fiction writers awarded a position at a past Mentor Series at the Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis. He has attended the Community of Writers at Squaw Valley and the Tin House Writers’ Workshop in Portland, where he was mentored by author Walter Kirn. He lives near Minneapolis with his wife, the painter Megan Rye, and their family. Next of Kin is his first novel.


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