The Lies We Told by Camilla Way

The Lies We Told by Camilla Way

October 2018 -Berkley Trade Paperback Original

Review book courtesy of the publisher

Description:

Beth has always known there was something strange about her daughter, Hannah. The lack of emotion, the disturbing behavior, including the apparent delight in hurting others; sometimes Beth is scared of Hannah and what she could be capable of doing.

Luke comes from the perfect family, with the perfect parents. But one day, he disappears without a trace, and his girlfriend, Clara, is desperate to discover what has happened to him. As Clara digs into the past, she realizes that no family is truly perfect, and uncovers a link between Luke’s long-lost sister and a strange girl named Hannah. Now Luke’s life is in danger because of the lies once told and the secrets once kept. (from the publisher)

My take:  How much do we really know about the people in our circle – the really important people? The Lies We Told will have readers wondering! Well-paced and tightly edited (always a good thing) Camilla Way’s mystery/thriller kept me on edge and turning the pages. Just when I was sure I’d figured it out she threw another possibility into the mix. I loved that! And I loved how the answers to my questions were revealed little by little. I’m excited to read what she dreams up next.


About the author:

Camilla Way has been an editor and writer for magazines in the UK and is the author of Watching Edie. Follow her on Twitter @CamillaLWay.

THE LIES WE TOLD has already been drawing comparisons to We Need to Talk about Kevin, it’s been been called “deftly plotted” (Emerald Street), “compelling” (Prima), a “top class psychological thriller” (The Sunday Mirror), and been called readers’ “insomnia buddy” (Stylist).


 

Pieces of Her by Karin Slaughter

Pieces of Her by Karin Slaughter

August 2018 – William Morrow

Book courtesy of the publisher

Description:

What if the person you thought you knew best turns out to be someone you never knew at all?

Andrea Oliver’s mother, Laura, is the perfect small-town mum. Laura lives a quiet but happy life in sleepy beachside Belle Isle. She’s a pillar of the community: a speech therapist, business owner and everybody’s friend. And she’s never kept a secret from anyone. Or so Andrea thinks.

When Andrea is caught in a random violent attack at a shopping mall, Laura intervenes and acts in a way that is unrecognisable to her daughter. It’s like Laura is a completely different person – and that’s because she was. Thirty years ago. Before Andrea. Before Belle Isle.

Laura is hailed as a hero for her actions at the mall but 24 hours later she is in hospital, shot by an intruder, who’s spent decades trying to track her down.

What is Andrea’s mother trying to hide? As elements of the past return and put them both in danger, Andrea is left to piece together Laura’s former identity and discover the truth – for better or worse – about her mother. Is the gentle, loving woman who raised her also a violent killer? (publisher)

My take:  Being at the scene of a shooting starts a young woman on a journey that will present a side to her mother she didn’t know existed. Andrea witnesses her mother Laura methodically kill the shooter – something she would never expect to happen. A frantic solo car trip with stops in Alabama, Texas, and Illinois quickly ensues and results in the discovery of a huge truth about her mother. When I started reading this novel I didn’t know it would be a page-turner that would take just two days to read. I couldn’t stop reading! There are two time periods that allow the plot to develop: the current time when the shooting occurs and the 1980s when Laura lived a completely different life than the one Andrea knows. That’s all I’ll say. Recommended to fans of the author and a fast paced thriller. I enjoyed it.

Note: I also used an Audible credit. Narrator Kathleen Early did a great job with the various characters’ voices. 


 

Not Her Daughter by Rea Frey

Not Her Daughter by Rea Frey

Published August 2018 – St. Martin’s Griffin

Review copy courtesy of the publisher

Description:  Emma Townsend. Five years old. Gray eyes, brown hair. Missing since June.

Emma is lonely. Living with her cruel mother and clueless father, Emma retreats into her own world of quiet and solitude.

Sarah Walker. Successful entrepreneur. Broken-hearted. Kidnapper.

Sarah has never seen a girl so precious as the gray-eyed child in a crowded airport terminal. When a second-chance encounter with Emma presents itself, Sarah takes her—far away from home. But if it’s to rescue a little girl from her damaging mother, is kidnapping wrong?

Amy Townsend. Unhappy wife. Unfit mother. Unsure whether she wants her daughter back.

Amy’s life is a string of disappointments, but her biggest issue is her inability to connect with her daughter. And now Emma is gone without a trace.

As Sarah and Emma avoid the nationwide hunt, they form an unshakeable bond. But what about Emma’s real mother, back at home? (publisher)

My take:  Sarah is deeply affected when she witnesses a little girl (Emma) being mistreated by her mother on more than one occasion. It brings to the forefront her relationship with her own mother and motivates Sarah to do something quite out of character.

Amy, mother of Emma, is one of those people you just know doesn’t feel comfortable in her own skin, her life, her relationships. It’s almost a relief when her daughter can’t be found.

This novel made me feel anxious for all involved. It’s about mothers, daughters, disappointments, devastation, resiliency. It’s a study in how parental relationships with children, especially in the early years, are so important in forming who they become later on. Could the events in Not Her Daughter happen in “real life”? I don’t know. It seemed rather improbable as I read but could I stop turning the pages? NO. I had to see how author Rea Frey resolved things. An interesting debut novel that has me has me looking forward to Frey’s next book.


 

Spotlight: Pieces Of Her by Karin Slaughter

Pieces Of Her by Karin Slaughter

On sale:  August 21, 2018

William Morrow Hardcover

In development for TV from the producer of BIG LITTLE LIES and the writer and director of HOMELAND

Description:

Andrea knows everything about her mother, Laura. She knows she’s spent her whole life in the small beachside town of Belle Isle; she knows she’s never wanted anything more than to live a quiet life as a pillar of the community; she knows she’s never kept a secret in her life. Because we all know our mothers, don’t we?

But all that changes when a trip to the mall explodes into violence. Celebrating her birthday over lunch with her mother, they find themselves in the middle of a deadly shooting and Andrea suddenly sees a completely different side to Laura. While Andrea freezes in fear, Laura is calm, cool, and collected—jumping into action to stop the killer in his tracks. How can a quiet, middle-aged speech pathologist possibly stop a shooter on a rampage? Because it turns out that before Laura was Laura, she was someone completely different. For nearly thirty years she’s been hiding from her previous identity, lying low in the hope that no one would ever find her. But now she’s been exposed, and nothing will ever be the same. 

The police want answers and Laura’s innocence is on the line, but she won’t speak to anyone, including her own daughter. Andrea is on a desperate journey following the breadcrumb trail of her mother’s past. And if she can’t uncover the secrets hidden there, there may be no future for either one of them. Told from Laura’s point of view in 1986 and Andrea’s now, PIECES OF HER begs the question, can you ever truly escape your past? (publisher)


About the author:

Karin Slaughter is one of the world’s most popular and acclaimed storytellers. Published in 120 countries with more than 35 million copies sold across the globe, her eighteen novels include the Grant County and Will Trent books, as well as the Edgar-nominated Cop Town and the instant New York Times bestselling novels Pretty Girls and The Good Daughter. Slaughter is the founder of the Save the Libraries project—a nonprofit organization established to support libraries and library programming. A native of Georgia, Karin Slaughter lives in Atlanta. Her standalone novels Pieces of Her, The Good Daughter and Cop Town are in development for film and television.- Library Journal

 


Early Praise for Pieces of Her:

“Her talent for writing convincingly flawed yet sympathetic characters is in high relief here…Readers will find themselves totally immersed in the suspenseful, alternating story lines and won’t want either of them to end.” – Booklist starred review

“Slaughter reinforces her place at the top of the thriller pack.” – Publishers Weekly

“With an intrigue and suspense-filled plot, Slaughter’s well-crafted, tense, and exhilarating story will keep readers on the edge of their seats.” – Library Journal

Slaughter has outdone herself with Pieces of Her – a novel that sets the standard for psychological thriller writing. Rarely in fiction have the past and the present collided with such force and in such a distinctive and compelling voice.” – Jeffrey Deaver

“Slaughter’s eye for detail and truth is unmatched…I’d follow her anywhere.” —Gillian Flynn

“Her characters, plot, and pacing are unrivaled among thriller writers…” —Michael Connelly

“Karin Slaughter has – by far – the best name of all of us mystery novelists…” — James Patterson

 “One of the boldest thriller writers working today.” — Tess Gerritsen

“A writer of extraordinary talents. Every Karin Slaughter novel is a cause for celebration.” — Kathy Reichs


 

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.


 

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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Spotlight on: Poison by Galt Niederhoffer

I’m pleased to shine the Bookfan Spotlight on POISON by Galt Niederhoffer. Today is publication day and I can’t wait to read it!

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.


About the author:

Galt Niederhoffer is a writer and producer. She has written several novels, including The Romantics and A Taxonomy of Barnacles, and has produced more than thirty indie films, twelve of which were selections and award-winners at the Sundance Film Festival. Niederhoffer has also been published in Vogue, New York magazine, and Harper’s Bazaar. She lives in New York City with her three children.


Praise for POISON:

“The novel is ominous from Page 1, and with its slow-burn peril – both psychological and physical…the suspense is sustained until the very end.” – Kirkus reviews

“This gripping, insightful work dissects a marriage in which Cass, a wife and mother of three, believes she is under attack from her perfect-to-the-outside-world husband. Throughout the novel, Cass’ racing thoughts, tormenting self-doubt, and fear for her family’s safety lay bare the torture of being gaslighted by a lying narcissist. Readers will be gripped by the did-he, didn’t-he plot: the mental gymnastics portrayed on the page are so spot-on that it is difficult to imagine that the novel isn’t autobiographical.” – Booklist

“[E]ngrossing…this is a chilling and entertaining novel. ” – Publisher’s Weekly

“It will grab you…unsettle you…make you question the things you hold dear – family, marriage, and sanity. And it won’t let go until the very end.” – Ivy Pochoda, author of Visitation Street

“With gripping, nuanced style, Galt Niederhoffer has written a novel – think of Gone Girl – that delivers an unbelievable reality, with twisty, turn-y, modern-day noir panache. Poison is both entertainment and a warning – and that is saying a lot.” – Sheila Weller, author of Girls Like Us

“Haunting.” – Lucinda Rosenfeld, author of Class 


 

Spotlight/US Giveaway: I See You by Clare Mackintosh

About the book:

When Zoe Walker discovers her own picture in the local newspaper’s classified ads, she’s shocked.  A photo from her Facebook page accompanies a listing for a website called FindTheOne.com.  All Zoe’s efforts to discover what the ad means lead to dead ends.  And then a second woman whose picture appeared in a similar ad is assaulted.  When a third woman is murdered, Zoe’s unease turns to fear and paranoia.  The only thing the three have in common is their daily commute on the London subway system.

 

Someone is methodically tracking down these women…and Zoe is next on the list.

 

Told in alternating chapters by Zoe, troubled transit officer Kelly Swift who investigates when others refuse, and the clever killer stalking a new victim, I SEE YOU is an edge-of-your-seat read that will have you furiously turning pages, gasping at the plot twists (including a final chapter breath-taker), and marveling at Clare Mackintosh’s ability to craft a compulsive thriller that keeps you guessing at every turn.


My take (originally posted March 7, 2017): The description will tell you all you need to know before reading I See You. What I will say is that author Clare Mackintosh lulled me into a feeling of “is this going anywhere?” for a good part of the book. That’s not to say I was bored or uninterested. I enjoyed the unfolding of the story. I think she paced it slowly for a reason and then opened up a can of Whoa! in the last quarter of the book. It’s creepy and sinister. Unsurprisingly, I didn’t correctly guess who was behind the crime. I would love to read more about the investigation team in future books. Each detective seems to have a story that I’d be interested in knowing. Recommended to fans of the genre and Clare Mackintosh.


“The Must-Have Thriller of 2017.” —Bustle

NOW AVAILABLE IN PAPERBACK

Berkley Trade Paperback Reprint; November 7, 2017

 

“Danger feels real in the brilliant I See You…Mackintosh seems destined to do important work for many years to come.”—The Washington Post

 

“Deliciously creepy.”—Ruth Ware

 

“[A] well-told suspense story…refreshingly realistic.”—The New York Times Book Review


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Best Day Ever by Kaira Rouda

  • Title:  Best Day Ever
  • Author:  Kaira Rouda
  • Genre:  Mystery; Thriller
  • Pages:  384
  • Published:  September 2017 – Graydon House
  • Source:  Publisher; Wunderkind PR

Description:  Paul Strom has the perfect life: a glittering career as an advertising executive, a beautiful wife, two healthy boys and a big house in a wealthy suburb. And he’s the perfect husband: breadwinner, protector, provider. That’s why he’s planned a romantic weekend for his wife, Mia, at their lake house, just the two of them. And he’s promised today will be the best day ever.

But as Paul and Mia drive out of the city and toward the countryside, a spike of tension begins to wedge itself between them and doubts start to arise. How much do they trust each other? And how perfect is their marriage, or any marriage, really?

Forcing us to ask ourselves just how well we know those who are closest to us, Best Day Ever crackles with dark energy, spinning ever tighter toward its shocking conclusion. In the bestselling, page-turning vein of The Couple Next Door and The Dinner, Kaira Rouda weaves a gripping, tautly suspenseful tale of deception and betrayal dark enough to destroy a marriage…or a life. (publisher)

My take:  Paul is a confident and successful man. He has life figured out and knows he deserves all he has, and more. He’s planned a weekend away with his wife, Mia. She needs a nice getaway – she’s been sick lately with a mystery illness that countless doctors haven’t been able to figure out. He’s certain this vacation is exactly what she needs. It will all start with the best day ever. But what happens when Paul’s plan doesn’t go the way he intends? Kaira Rouda’s novel takes the reader inside the mind of Paul. It’s creepy and disturbing and yet I couldn’t stop reading. I had an idea where everything was heading – and I was right. It was a departure from my usual reads and I enjoyed it. I loved discovering the significance of the eye-catching cover as well. Yes, a creepy good afternoon of reading about someone’s best day ever.


 Check out my Spotlight post for more information about BEST DAY EVER


Working Fire by Emily Bleeker

  • Title:  Working Fire
  • Author:  Emily Bleeker
  • Genre:  Thriller
  • Pages:  320
  • Published:  August 2017 – Lake Union Publishing
  • Source:  Publisher

Description:  Ellie Brown thought she’d finally escaped her stifling hometown of Broadlands, Illinois; med school was supposed to be her ticket out. But when her father has a stroke, she must return home to share his care with her older sister, Amelia, who’s busy with her own family. Working as a paramedic, Ellie’s days are monotonous, driving an ambulance through streets she’d hoped never to see again.

Until a 911 dispatch changes everything. The address: her sister’s house. Rushing to the scene, Ellie discovers that Amelia and her husband, Steve, have been shot in a home invasion. After Amelia is rushed to the hospital, Ellie tries to make sense of the tragedy. But what really happened inside her sister’s house becomes less and less clear. As Amelia hangs on in critical condition, Ellie uncovers dark revelations about her family’s past that challenge her beliefs about those closest to her…and force her to question where her devotions truly lie. (publisher)

My take:  Working Fire is the story of Ellie and Amelia, two sisters who live in the same small town where they grew up and share taking care of their father. Amelia is married and the mother of two young daughters. Ellie is single and works as a paramedic, having left medical school to help care for her former fire chief dad when he had a stroke. The sisters are very close and would do anything for each other. Ellie worships Amelia and her husband and their daughters. Amelia is a harried mom trying to keep everything going in her family. There’s a stress that’s growing in her marriage making her uncomfortable but not enough to share those thoughts with anyone, including her sister. How will she manage when she discovers what exactly is at the root of the stress. Working Fire is told from the two sisters’ perspectives – one from a current perspective and the other is a few weeks previous. That helped to reveal the story and how events played out in a way that kept me turning the pages. I enjoyed that aspect and yet felt rather ambivalent about the last few pages. I’m wondering if there could be a sequel planned. Or maybe it’s just how real life is for the rest of us – not neatly wrapped up. I look forward to reading more from Emily Bleeker.


About the author:

Emily Bleeker is a former educator who learned to love writing while teaching a writer’s workshop. After surviving a battle with a rare form of cancer, she finally found the courage to share her stories, starting with her debut novel, Wreckage, followed by the Wall Street Journal bestseller When I’m Gone. Emily currently lives with her family in suburban Chicago. Connect with her or request a Skype visit with your book club at http://www.emilybleeker.com.


 

Spotlight/US Giveaway: The Lucky Ones by Mark Edwards

The Lucky Ones
A Novel
by Mark Edwards
Thomas & Mercer • June 15, 2017 • Price: $15.95 Trade Paperback Original
 380 pages
ISBN: 978-1477848272
*
ABOUT THE LUCKY ONES
When a woman’s body is found in the grounds of a ruined priory, Detective Imogen Evans realizes she is dealing with a serial killer—a killer whose victims appear to die in a state of bliss, eyes open, smiles forever frozen on their faces.
A few miles away, single dad Ben Hofland believes his fortunes are changing at last. Forced to move back to the sleepy village where he grew up following the breakdown of his marriage, Ben finally finds work. What’s more, the bullies who have been terrorizing his son, Ollie, disappear. For the first time in months, Ben feels lucky.
But he is unaware that someone is watching him and Ollie. Someone who wants nothing but happiness for Ben.
Happiness…and death.

Photo Mark Earthy
http://www.earthyphotography.co.uk
This image is protected by Copyright

MARK EDWARDS writes psychological thrillers in which scary things happen to ordinary people and is inspired by writers such as Stephen King, Ira Levin, Ruth Rendell and Linwood Barclay.
His first solo novel, The Magpies (2013), reached the No.1 spot on Amazon UK and has sold 300,000 copies to date.
Mark grew up on the south coast of England and starting writing in his twenties while working in a number of dead-end jobs. He lived in Tokyo for a year before returning to the UK and starting a career in marketing. He now writes full-time and lives in the West Midlands, England, with his wife, their three children and a ginger cat, Billie, who was named after an actress from Doctor Who.


Praise for The Lucky Ones:

“Chilling, fast-paced, and unpredictable. I couldn’t put it down!” —Robert Bryndza, author of THE GIRL IN THE ICE
“Another gripping read from Mark Edwards.” —Howard Linskey, author of NO NAME LANE
“Tight plot, engaging characters, beautifully drawn setting.…Another compulsive domestic noir from the British Linwood Barclay.” —Ed James, author of THE HOPE THAT KILLS
“Another compellingly twisty read from Mark Edwards. They just get better and better.” —Sibel Hodge, author of DUPLICITY

“A terrific, tense read with a great twist.”  —Sarah Lotz, author of THE THREE


An Excerpt from The Lucky Ones
Even though it was a secluded spot and rain seemed unlikely, a tent had been erected over the corpse. Treading carefully on the stepping plates put down to preserve any important evidence, Imogen entered the tent, with just Emma behind her.
The woman was lying on her back, arms by her side, legs together, as if she were already in her coffin. As Pete had said, her eyes gazed sightlessly at the canvas overhead.
Scene of Crime Officers moved around the victim, taking pictures.
Imogen crouched beside the body. As with the others, there was no blood, no marks on the throat, no obvious signs of violence. The woman was in her late forties or early fifties, white, with mid-length brown hair that looked like it had been recently highlighted. Average weight, about five foot seven. Lightly made up, though the mascara around her eyes had smeared. She was a good-looking woman, well-groomed and wearing casual but expensive clothes: a pair of designer jeans and a light cashmere sweater. She wore white pumps on her feet. And Pete was right: she appeared to be smiling, her lips curled upwards at each corner.
Just like the others.
She wished she could roll up the woman’s sleeve to check for what she was sure would be there, but she didn’t want to risk incurring the wrath of Karen Lamb or do anything that would jeopardise this investigation.
She got to her feet, taking another look at the body and the grass around her.
‘No drag marks,’ she said. ‘She was carried here. And no sign of a syringe of any other drugs paraphernalia. Just like the others.’
She left the tent, Emma at her heels, and turned slowly in a circle, scanning the perimeter. To the west and north, open countryside stretched as far as the eye could see. To the east, Imogen could see the town, and to the south, the streets where most of Much Wenlock’s inhabitants lived, the houses a mix of new and old. Could the killer live there, within spitting distance of this place? It seemed unlikely. The three victims had been found at spots spread out across the country. There was nothing to suggest he was leaving them in his own backyard.
‘He can’t have carried her too far, not unless he’s incredibly strong,’ Imogen said. ‘He must have parked somewhere nearby before entering the site.’
She closed her eyes and tried to picture it: the man she’d spent so many hours thinking about over the past few months, carrying this woman – like a groom carrying his bride over the threshold? Or over his shoulder? So far, they hadn’t found signs of entry at any of the three scenes. It was as if he’d swooped down from the sky and placed his victims gently on the ground before taking off again.
Her phone rang. She took the call, then turned back to Emma.
‘That was the station. A guy in Ludlow’s reported his wife missing. Five seven, brown hair with blonde highlights. He described her jewelry, too. It matches. Her name’s Fiona Redbridge.’
She stepped back through the opening of the tent, hoping Karen would get here quickly so they could at least close the poor woman’s eyes. Once more, she crouched beside the body, wishing again that she could roll up the sleeve of that blouse and check for the needle mark she was certain would be there.
Rising and leaving the tent, Imogen stopped as a movement in the middle distance caught her eye. Someone was standing in the field, just beyond the perimeter of the Priory. A man, dressed in black, too far away to make out his features. When she took a few steps towards him, he turned and began hurriedly walking away. Imogen approached one of the younger officers with orders to pursue him, but before she’d even finished speaking the man had vanished, as if he’d melted into thin air.

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Giveaway ends on August 3, 2017


The Ridge by John Rector

  • Title:  The Ridge
  • Author:  John Rector
  • Genre:  Mystery; Thriller
  • Pages:  284
  • Published:  April 2017 – Thomas & Mercer
  • Source:  Publisher

Description:  With its manicured lawns, pastel houses, and quiet, tree-lined streets, Willow Ridge seems to be the perfect place for Megan and Tyler Stokes to start a new chapter in their lives together. But soon after settling in, Megan begins to notice cracks in the neighborhood’s bright suburban facade—cracks that reveal a darker secret hidden just beneath the surface.

After an angry encounter with a neighbor takes a horrifying turn, Megan’s waking nightmare truly begins—growing ever more chilling and bizarre with each shocking twist. Suddenly forced to question everything around her, Megan finds herself trapped between the specter of madness and the shadow of something far worse. Her only hope is to expose the community’s pretty lies and discover the truth about what is really going on in Willow Ridge—a truth so devastating that her life will never be the same. (publisher)

My take:  While thrillers aren’t my go-to genre I was intrigued by the blurb and thought it would be a good read for my vacation. My instincts proved correct. The Ridge was a fast-paced novel that had me remembering The Stepford Wives (was even joked about by a couple of characters).

There’s something different about the town of Willow Ridge. When Megan and her husband move there for his job she can’t wait to move back to Chicago. But she agrees to give it a year. When she begins to notice odd things about her neighbors she may not be able to keep her promise. I couldn’t blame her!

I won’t share any more except to say if you like a short mystery/thriller with light sci-fi overtones you’ll want to look for The Ridge. It was a perfect poolside read.


About the author:

John Rector is the bestselling author of the novels The Ridge, The Cold Kiss, The Grove, Already Gone, Out of the Black, and Ruthless. His short fiction has appeared in numerous magazines and has won several awards, including the International Thriller Award for his novella, Lost Things.

He lives in Omaha, Nebraska.


 

One Perfect Lie by Lisa Scottoline

  • Title:  One Perfect Lie
  • Author:  Lisa Scottoline
  • Genre:  Thriller
  • Pages:  384
  • Published:  April 2017 – St. Martin’s Press
  • Source:  Publisher

Description:  On paper, Chris Brennan looks perfect. He’s applying for a job as a high school government teacher, he’s ready to step in as an assistant baseball coach, and his references are impeccable.

But everything about Chris Brennan is a lie.

Susan Sematov is proud of her son Raz, a high school pitcher so athletically talented that he’s being recruited for a full-ride scholarship to a Division I college, with a future in major-league baseball. But Raz’s father died only a few months ago, leaving her son in a vulnerable place where any new father figure might influence him for good, or evil.

Heather Larkin is a struggling single mother who lives for her son Justin’s baseball games. But Justin is shy, and Heather fears he is being lured down a dark path by one of his teammates, a young man from an affluent family whose fun-loving manner might possibly conceal his violent plans.

Mindy Kostis succumbs to the pressure of being a surgeon’s wife by filling her days with social events and too many gin and tonics. But she doesn’t know that her husband and her son, Evan, are keeping secrets from her – secrets that might destroy all of them. 

At the center of all of them is Chris Brennan. Why is he there? What does he want? And what is he willing to do to get it?

Enthralling and suspenseful, One Perfect Lie is an emotional thriller and a suburban crime story that will have readers riveted up to the shocking end, with killer twists and characters you won’t soon forget.  (publisher)

My take:  One Perfect Lie is the first of Lisa Scottoline’s books I’ve read. It would be a perfect beach/pool read or one to read on a plane (I read it in a day). It could be described a few ways but I’ll stick with a suburban crime page-turner that picks up more steam with almost every turn of the page. One Perfect Lie is filled with characters who certainly can’t be trusted and then a few chapters later you’re not so sure. I enjoyed the twists that kept me guessing. The dramatic scene near the end played out in my mind’s eye as if on a jumbo screen. I loved that. Not wanting to risk a spoiler, I’ll stop here – except to say I look forward to reading more of Lisa Scottoline’s books.


LISA SCOTTOLINE is a New York Times bestselling and Edgar Award–winning author of twenty-eight novels. She has 30 million copies of her books in print in the United States, she has been published in thirty-five countries, and her thrillers have been optioned for television and film. Lisa also writes a weekly column with her daughter, Francesca Serritella, for The Philadelphia Inquirer, and those stories have been adapted into a series of bestselling memoirs, the first of which is entitled Why My Third Husband Will Be A Dog. Lisa lives on a Pennsylvania farm with an array of disobedient pets. Visit Lisa at www.Scottoline.com, or follow her on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram at @LisaScottoline


Praise for ONE PERFECT LIE

“Entertaining…This fast-paced read culminates in a daring chase that would play well on the big screen.” Publisher’s Weekly

“Readers can be assured that the author nails the high school milieu, from athletic rivalries to sexting, and…they’re in for one thrilling ride on the roller coaster” Kirkus Reviews

“Scottoline keeps the pace relentless as she drops a looming threat into the heart of an idyllic suburban community, causing readers to hold their breath in anticipation.” Booklist


 

I See You by Clare Mackintosh

  • i-see-youTitle:  I See You
  • Author:  Clare Mackintosh
  • Genre:  Thriller
  • Pages:  384
  • Published:  February 2017 – Berkley
  • Source:  Publisher

Description:  Every morning and evening, Zoe Walker takes the same route to the train station, waits at a certain place on the platform, finds her favorite spot in the car, never suspecting that someone is watching her…
 
It all starts with a classified ad. During her commute home one night, while glancing through her local paper, Zoe sees her own face staring back at her, a grainy photo along with a phone number and listing for a website called findtheone.com. 
 
Other women begin appearing in the same ad, a different one every day, and Zoe realizes they’ve become the victims of increasingly violent crimes—including rape and murder. With the help of a determined cop, she uncovers the ad’s twisted purpose…a discovery that turns her paranoia into full-blown panic. For now Zoe is sure that someone close to her has set her up as the next target. 
 
And now that man on the train—the one smiling at Zoe from across the car—could be more than just a friendly stranger. He could be someone who has deliberately chosen her and is ready to make his next move…  (publisher)

My take:  The description will tell you all you need to know before reading I See You. What I will say is that author Clare Mackintosh lulled me into a feeling of “is this going anywhere?” for a good part of the book. That’s not to say I was bored or uninterested. I enjoyed the unfolding of the story. I think she paced it slowly for a reason and then opened up a can of Whoa! in the last quarter of the book.

I agree with the Advance Praise below. It’s creepy and sinister. Unsurprisingly, I didn’t correctly guess who was behind the crime. I would love to read more about the investigation team in future books. Each detective seems to have a story that I’d be interested in knowing. Recommended to fans of the genre and Clare Mackintosh.



Advance praise for I SEE YOU:

A deliciously creepy tale of urban paranoia.”—Ruth Ware, author of The Woman in Cabin 10

Wonderfully sinister. Had me looking over my shoulder.”—Fiona Barton, author of The Widow

 “Mackintosh scripts a hair-raising ride all the scarier because its premise—that our predictable routines make us easy targets—is sadly so plausible.”Publishers Weekly, starred review

“[T]he steadily thickening paranoia will leave readers questioning their comfortable routines…a well-crafted blend of calculated malevolence, cunning plot twists, and redemption that will appeal to fans of Sophie Hannah, Ruth Rendell, and Ruth Ware.”Booklist, starred review

 Packed with suspense, twists, and turns[Mackintosh’s] meticulous detail to investigative accuracy and talent in weaving a thrilling tale set her work apart from others in the field.”Kirkus


 

Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris

  • behind closed doors (SMP 8:9)Title:  Behind Closed Doors
  • Author:  B.A. Paris
  • Genre:  Thriller
  • Pages:  304
  • Published:  August 2016 – St. Martin’s Press
  • Source:  Publisher

Description:  Everyone knows a couple like Jack and Grace: he has looks and wealth, she has charm and elegance. You’d like to get to know Grace better. But it’s difficult, because you realize Jack and Grace are never apart. Perhaps it’s simply true love?

Now, picture this: a dinner party at their perfect home, the conversation and wine flowing. They appear to be in their element while entertaining. And Grace’s friends are eager to reciprocate with lunch the following week. Grace wants to go, but knows she never will. Her friends call—so why doesn’t Grace ever answer the phone? And how can she cook such elaborate meals but remain so slim?

And why are there bars on one of the bedroom windows?

The perfect marriage? Or the perfect lie??  (publisher)

My take:  Not wanting to reveal more than the description I’ll keep this brief. I don’t like feeling anxious and that’s exactly how I felt while reading Behind Closed Doors. That said, I couldn’t stop reading this novel.  B.A. Paris’ debut novel is addictive like no other book I’ve read this summer.

Alternating chapters between Past and Present was a good way to reveal the story of Grace and Jack. Paris drew me into this story with a seemingly normal scene then quickly grabbed me with a 180° turn. I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough. I was interested to learn that the author was inspired to write this novel when she suspected a friend was caught up in a situation with very little control. That led Paris to imagine Grace’s predicament.

I found Behind Closed Doors to be well-paced and suspenseful and I read with a figurative hand over my eyes. I think fans of psychological thrillers will gobble it up. I read it in two days and felt satisfied as I turned the last page. I’m not surprised that movie rights have already been sold in the US.


About the Author: B.A. Paris is from a Franco/Irish background. She was brought up in England and worked in London for three years before moving to Paris, where she worked in corporate banking and as a trader in an international bank. After the birth of her first daughter, she became a stay-at-home mother and went on to have another three daughters. She spent four years in the Netherlands, where her fifth daughter was born. Returning to France, she decided to re-train as an English teacher and worked for some years in an international school and then at the Université de Marne la Vallée, teaching English to Architecture students. In 2009 she set up a language school with her husband and now teaches Business English in Paris.