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Search tags: Psychological-Thriller
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review 2018-07-21 14:39
An unsettling page turner recommended to lovers of first-person narratives.
The Party - Lisa Hall

Thanks to NetGalley and to HQ for providing me an ARC copy of this book that I freely chose to review.

This is an unsettling novel. It starts with a woman, Rachel, who wakes up after a New Year’s Eve party not remembering what has happened and feeling quite vulnerable, and as she tries to get her bearings and find out what went on, while keeping face (as she’s in one of her neighbours’ houses and feels more than a little embarrassed), she comes to realise that something horrible has taken place. The author’s use of first-person narration immerses the readers in Rachel’s mind and makes us share in her fear, confusion, and contradictory feelings. There is physical evidence that something has happened to her, but she cannot recall what, or who might have done the deed.

The story moves between the immediate aftermath of the story, in chronological order, and interspersed chapters that share the events prior to the party, always from the protagonist’s point of view, but they don’t reach into the faraway past and only takes us a few months back, giving us some background that helps us understand why the people closest to Rachel (especially her husband, Gareth) react as they do to the events.

In the present time, somebody starts playing with the protagonist, in a game of cat-and-mouse (which sometimes takes on gaslighting characteristics) and manages to make her doubt herself and everybody around her, from mere acquaintances to those closest and dearest to her.  The first-person point of view works well at making readers feel the claustrophobia, paranoia, anxiety, and sheer terror of not knowing who to trust and seeing your whole life crumble around you.

The book, which fits into the domestic noir category, uses well some of the tropes of the genre, including the protagonist who feels trapped and not taken seriously by the police and therefore has to do her own investigating. There are also plenty of red herrings and a number of credible suspects that make us keep turning the pages to see what will happen next, although readers of thrillers will probably guess who the culprit is (I did).

On the negative side, personally, I did not feel a connection to the characters, particularly Rachel. I empathised with her circumstances, and with the terrible crime she has survived, but I did not feel there is enough information provided about her to create a credible individual. One of the other characters at some point talks about her belief that she is a strong woman, and I wondered what that was based on, as we are only given snippets of her current life and her recent past, and nothing that makes her come alive (What does she like? What did she do before she got married? Does she have any passions, apart from her relationships? She has a friend but other than calling her for support, there is no indication of what that friendship is based on). She does things that are morally questionable, but that was not my issue (I have long defended unlikable main characters, but I still need to feel that they are real, somehow). I wondered if this was intentional, trying to make sure that everybody would be able to identify with Rachel and her plight, rather than making her too distinctive and individual, but, for me at least, the opposite is the truth, and we know enough about her to make her different from us, but not perhaps to make us feel as if we know who she is. This would not bother me so much in a standard plot-driven thriller, but when the book depends so closely on the protagonist’s voice and on her sense of identity, it didn’t gel for me. There were also some things that I thought readers who are not fond of first-person narratives might find annoying (like the character looking at herself in the mirror as a way of providing us a description, something that is frown upon in general writing advice, and a leaning towards telling rather than showing in the bulk of the writing).

The novel moves at a good pace, it creates doubt and hesitation in the readers’ minds, and it has a good sense of timing. And the ending will probably satisfy most fans of the genre. It also touches on an important and, sadly, topical subject, although it does not cover new ground. It brought to my mind C.L.Taylor’s The Fear and I noticed the author, Lisa Hall, had reviewed that novel. I have not read the author’s previous books, but I am curious to see how this compares to her other novels.

A page-turner I recommend to lovers of domestic noir, particularly those who enjoy claustrophobic and unsettling first-person narratives.

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review 2018-06-21 20:09
Cat Ellington's review of A Life Removed by Jason Parent
A Life Removed - Jason Parent

Please consult either one of the following links to view my analysis of A Life Removed by Jason Parent.

—Cat Ellington

 

• The Review Period with Cat Ellington: https://catellington.blogspot.com/p/my-reviews_27.html

 

• Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2007831466

 

Source: catellington.blogspot.com
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review 2018-06-12 23:02
Book Review of The Truth about Eggs by Delphine Richards
The Truth About Eggs - Delphine Richards

The Truth about Eggs by Delphine Richards is a novel featuring ‘The Welsh Detective’ DCI Tegwyn Prydderch in his latest outing investigating the mystery and horror surrounding characters and events in the small Welsh village of Llanefa.
Llanefa's Devil Tree is a hoax thought up by locals trying to boost tourism in the area. During the month of August, it was said that the Devil Tree released evil spirits into the community unless it was visited and paid homage to.
Nobody tells the tourists that this is a scam to bring income to the area and it remains Llanefa's Best Kept Secret!
Some people have no interest in tourism or hoaxes.
Manon, Anna and Natalie are keeping their own secrets.
Why does Manon keep the baby hidden from everyone?
Anna's secret wish is to break into the film industry. When she is brutally raped, she knows she won't be believed, so her only alternative is a bleak one.
Why is Natalie's secret so shameful that she cannot even share it with her best friend?
On an August Bank Holiday, DCI Tegwyn Prydderch is hoping for a quiet few days while he is 'on call' in the area. His wishes are shattered when things begin to go wrong and he has to deal with the fallout.
Will the Devil Tree myth become reality?

 

Review 4*

 

This is a wonderfully thrilling read. I loved it!

 

Llanefa is a small Welsh village that is struggling to survive. The local's make up a legend around an old oak tree, which they call the Devil Tree, to encourage tourists to visit. But when terrible events unfold, is the legend coming to life?

 

There are several characters in this story that have their say. There is Manon, a young woman hiding a baby; Anna, a young woman haunted by a brutal sexual assault, and Natalie, another young woman with an eating disorder. There are a couple of other characters that are introduced too. Then there's DCI Tegwyn Prydderch, a Welsh police detective who finds himself trying to piece together what happened.

 

This story is a chilling, suspenseful tale which kept me guessing and had me sitting on the edge of my seat throughout. Each chapter follows a specific character, though some chapters follow the character of Natalie the most. When I first started reading I wasn't sure how all these separate story lines actually fitted together. However, as the story progressed, it became a little clearer towards the end; there is one common denominator that ties them all together. Nevertheless, the author successfully wove several red herrings into the tale that kept me guessing for ages. I feel I need to mention that there is a scene that I found to be incredibly disturbing. This scene is of Anna's brutal sexual assault. It is graphic in content, but I didn't feel that it was used in a gratuitous way. It depicts the horror of such an attack and it leaves a bitter taste of disgust in ones mouth when reading it. It felt incredibly realistic and it still sends shivers down my spine when I think of it, even days after reading the book. Therefore, reader beware. The other characters' stories are also not easy reading, and I'm sure Manon is in need of some psychological help.

 

I reached the end of the book feeling emotionally wrung out. Although the story concludes satisfactorily, it hints at a possible continuation of the series and I'm looking forward to it. The Devil Tree is stirring! *Dun Dun Duun* (cue evil music).

 

Delphine Richards is a new author to me and I've not read her other works before. I love her fast paced writing style, which kept me turning the pages, and the flow is wonderful. I would definitely consider reading more of her books in the future.

 

Due to explicit scenes of sexual assault, as well as violence, I do not recommend this book to younger readers. Or those who have a nervous disposition, or have been in an abusive relationship, as this story may cause flashbacks. I do, however, highly recommend this book if you love horror, psychological thrillers, thrillers, detective or mystery genres. - Lynn Worton

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text 2018-06-12 14:54
Coming Out Today ....
Lying in Wait - Liz Nugent

 

Released today in hardback cover, "Lying in Wait" is going to conquer american readers who are always up for a good dark thriller.

 

Born in Ireland, Liz Nugent is not a newcomer, she has already released two previous books and I'm shure that she has gained the respect of many readers that became instant fans.

 

Nothing better than a rainy day, a hot cup of tea and a book for a companion.

 

 

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review 2018-05-14 22:51
THE BREAK DOWN by B. A. Paris
The Break Down - B.A. Paris

I don't normally read psychological thrillers because they trigger issues for me but this is our book club book this month so I read it.  It's a good story.  I was sucked into from the first moment (of course, I did have all the lights on.)  I guessed what was happening to her within the first chapter and I was right.  I knew her husband was up to no good and I was right.  I did not guess the murderer and was only half right on the reason for the murder.  I was guessing up to the end on how it would all fall into place.  Luck was on Cass' side and she deserved it.  I'll read this author again.

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