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review 2018-02-19 23:36
A solid domestic-noir thriller with a familiar plot, unlikely to surprise those who love Hitchcock movies and habitual readers of thrillers
The Woman in the Window: A Novel - A. J. Finn

Thanks to NetGalley and to Harper Collins for providing me an ARC copy of this book that I freely decided to review.

I have been reading a lot of thrillers recently and kept coming across this book and, eventually, I thought I would read it. The description and the accolades mention Hitchcock and noir film and that convinced me I should read it.

Many of the reviews compare it to The Girl on the Train. Although I have watched the movie adaptation of that book, I haven’t read the novel, so I cannot compare the style, although yes, I agree that the story is very similar. This is more Rear Window (because the protagonist, Anna Fox, a psychologist, suffers from agoraphobia following a traumatic incident, and she is stuck at home, in New York) with touches of Body Double (I agree with the reviewer who mentioned that). It also brought to mind, for me, apart from the many Hitchcock and noir movies the character herself is so fond of (Shadow of a Doubt, The Lady Vanishes, Rope), some newer movies, like Copycat (the main protagonist is also a psychologist suffering from agoraphobia, in that case after being assaulted by a serial killer) and Murder by Numbers (that is a new treatment of Rope).

Anna is an unreliable narrator, and she tells us the story in the first-person (I know some readers don’t like that). I do like unreliable narrators, but I did not feel there was much new or particularly insightful here. She is a psychologist who seems to be able to help others with their problems (she joins an online chat and helps others suffering from agoraphobia) but is not capable of fully accepting or recognising her own (she sees a psychiatrist once a week but lies to him, does not take the medication as prescribed, keeps drinking alcohol despite being fully aware of its depressant effects and knowing that it should not be mixed with her medication), and lies to others, and what is worse, to herself. The fog produced by the alcohol and her erratic use of medication make her unreliable (and yes, some of her medication can cause hallucinations, so there’s that too), and although her predicament and her agoraphobia are well portrayed, because a big twist (that if you’ve read enough books will probably suspect from very early on) needs to remain hidden, for plot reasons, it is difficult to fully empathise with her. She is intelligent, she loves old movies, and she’s articulate (although her intelligence and her insight are dulled by her own behaviour and her state of mind), but we only get a sense of who she really is (or was, before all this) quite late in the book, and yes, perhaps she is not that likeable even then (in fact, she might become even less likeable after the great reveal). Don’t get me wrong. I’ve loved books where the main protagonist is truly dislikeable, but I am not sure that is intentional here, and I felt that the character follows the plot and accommodates to its needs, rather than the other way round.

The rest of the characters… well, we don’t know. As we see them from Anna’s perspective, and this is impaired, there is not much to guide us. She is paranoid at times and can change from totally depending on somebody and thinking they are the only person who can help her, to dismissing them completely (that detail is well portrayed), but although some of the characters are potentially intriguing, we don’t know enough about any of them to get truly interested. This is a novel about Anna, her disintegrating mind, the lies she tells herself, and how her being in the wrong place at the wrong time (or rather, looking at the wrong place at the wrong time) almost ends her life. For me, the needs of the plot and of making it an interesting page-turner end up overpowering some of the other elements that I think are truly well achieved (like her mental health difficulties).

The writing style is fluid and competent, and it is evident that the writer knows what readers of the genre will expect (yes, from his biography is easy to see he knows the knots and bolts of the profession), although, personally, I think people who don’t read thrillers regularly will find it more interesting than those who read them often, as avid thriller readers are likely to spot the twists and expect what is coming next early on. The agoraphobia aspects of the story are well written (and from his biography it is clear that the author has a first-hand knowledge of the condition), although I agree with some comments that the many mentions of the wine spilling down the carpet or on the character’s clothes, of opening another bottle, and abandoning a glass of wine somewhere could have been reduced, and we would still have got the message.

Lovers of film-noir and Hitchcock movies will enjoy the references to the films, some very open, and others more subtle, although the general level of the character’s awareness and her wit reduces as the book moves on due to the stress and pressure Anna is under. The ending… Well, I’m trying not to write any spoilers so I’ll keep my peace, although, let’s say you might enjoy the details, but there are not that many possible suspects, so you might guess correctly. (Yes, it does follow the standard rules).

In my opinion, this is a well-written book, that perhaps tries too hard to pack all the elements that seem required nowadays to make it big in the thriller genre: a female unreliable narrator, domestic problems (domestic noir), meta-fictional references to other books and films, twists and turns galore, witty dialogue (not so much, but yes, especially early on Anna can quote with the best of them), an action filled ending with a positive/hopeful message. I enjoyed the descriptions of Anna’s agoraphobia and, particularly, the way the house becomes another character (that is what I felt gave it most of its noir feel).  People who don’t read many thrillers or watch many movies in the genre are more likely to be surprised and thrilled than those who do, as the storyline will be very familiar to many. I am intrigued to see what the writer will produce next, and I am not surprised to hear that the book’s film adaptation rights have been already bought. That figures.

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review 2018-01-28 13:09
Steady paced, beautifully written story, about nature, the veneer of civilisation, and how far we would go for those we truly care about.
Force of Nature: A Novel - Jane Harper

Thanks to NetGalley and to Little, Brown Book Group for providing me an ARC copy of this book that I freely chose to review.

I had not read Harper’s first acclaimed novel The Dry when I read her second novel (although I had acquired it after reading many good reviews of it) and although it seems that most people who have reviewed it so far have read the first, I can confirm that it can be read independently and you will not feel that you are missing a fundamental part of the story. Yes, there are brief allusions to events that you suspect might refer to the first novel, but the case itself is self-contained. I must confess I felt curious about the first novel after reading this one, in part because of the main character, but also in part because of the comments by the reviewers.

If you have read the first novel, you will know that the setting is Australia. This time, rather than a draught and dry landscape, the case Aaron Falk gets involved in takes place in a wet and cold area at that time of the year, the Giralong Ranges. Two teams from the same legal firm (one male and one female) have gone for a weekend hiking, as part of a teambuilding exercise. The two teams take different routes and on Sunday, when they are all supposed to meet, one of the women does not turn up. Aaron Falk, who is a federal investigator dealing with financial crimes, and his partner, Carmen Cooper, knew the woman who had gone missing, Alice Russell, because she was helping them (not without a certain degree of pressure/coercion) investigate the firm. At first, they wonder if her disappearance might have something to do with her undercover activities, but there are many mysteries, lies, and intrigues at play, the red herrings abound, and emotions run high.

The story is told in the third person, but each chapter is divided into two time frames, one following the actual investigation of Alice’s disappearance, from Falk’s point of view, and the other following, in chronological order, the events during the hiking trip, from the alternate points of view of the women who accompanied Alice (and, very briefly, of Alice herself).  It is an interesting technique, as it makes us compare the conjectures of the investigating team, with the reality, and it provides us an opportunity to learn more about the characters from their own perspective. The author excels at her descriptions of the landscape, the weather, and the psychological state of the women (and of the male investigator). Although the story develops slowly and I would not call it fast-paced, it has twists and turns, and enough clues to keep us hooked and intrigued. Also, although understated and not emotionally open, we are also intrigued by how personally challenging this case is for Falk, who carries his father’s rucksack and his legacy with him and learns a lot more than the expected about family relationships throughout the book.

None of the characters (except, perhaps Falk and Cooper, and maybe the girls) are particularly lovable or even likable but we get to understand their motivations and why they do what they do. I know there are readers who prefer books where there are characters we should clearly like or dislike, but life is a bit more complex than that, and this novel abounds in morally ambiguous characters that not intentionally all good or bad. (Personally, I have a soft spot for Beth, one of the twin sisters). Alice is perhaps one of the least likable of all the characters, although she, like the rest, has redeeming qualities. It is also true that she is a character we don’t get much of an insight into, as she does not get a voice, and we mostly reconstruct her personality and character based on other people’s judgements and takes on her. I noticed that the characters seem to be paired-up (there are two twin sisters, that at first seem to be complete opposites but we learn there are more similarities in their life-experiences than they realise; there are two childhood friends whose lives and even daughters seem to follow parallel paths; the CEO of the company has difficulties with his son, and there are other father-son relationships highlighted throughout the novel, including that of Falk with his father, and also that of a serial killer who was infamous for his murders in the area and his son) and family relations are at the heart of the story.

For some reason this novel made me think of the label “domestic noir”, because although most of the story develops outdoors, it is also about families, strange relationships, and twists and turns. It also reminded me of Liane Moriarty’s Truly, Madly, Guilty that I reviewed a long while back (you can check my review here), not only because the author is also Australian, but because the mystery at the heart of the book (that in that case, we don’t discover until quite late) shakes and transforms deeply the lives of people who seemed to be getting on perfectly well, undisturbed in their domestic lives until they realise it was all a very thin veneer of normality. (After writing the review I noticed that one of the editorial reviews pointed at that too. Great minds…) Although it is true that the women get into survival mode when things get difficult, the comparison to Lord of the Flies is too extreme, in my opinion, as the characters’ motivations go beyond pure survival and are more complex and nuanced even when things get extremely ugly.

I enjoyed the book. Harper writes very well and can truly flesh out situations and landscapes, making us feel as if we were there with the protagonists. I agree with the reviewers who query some of the details of the story (yes, the organisation of the adventure does not seem to be very well-planned, for example), and I felt that some of the red-herrings and clues suggested more interesting directions than those finally explored (the previous murders committed there keep being hinted at but are not fully explained), and some I feel are possibly left open. The ending… Well, let’s say the resolution of the case itself is not a huge surprise, but I enjoyed the overall ending.

And after reading some of the reviews and the comments about Harper’s first novel, I have started reading it, so I’ll let you know what I think.

An author who’s made a deserved great impression and a mystery for those who prefer a slower pace and great writing, rather than a thrill a minute. Definitely recommended.

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review 2018-01-16 00:50
The Promise Between Us
The Promise Between Us - Barbara Claypole White

By: Barbara Claypole White 

ISBN: 9781542048989

Publisher:  Lake Union 

Publication Date: 1/16/2018 

Format: Paperback 

My Rating:  5 Stars ++

 

Bestselling author, Barbara Claypole White returns following (2016) Echoes of Family and (2015) The Perfect Son with her best yet, THE PROMISE BETWEEN US. 

Heart-wrenching a profoundly moving, and insightful story of OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder) and mental health. Relationships. Battling the monsters of the mind. Educating the family members and close friends. Deep understanding and empathy. 

Compelling, beautifully written, and emotionally-charged, you sympathize with each of the characters as they come alive on the pages. A story of shame, love, hope, and redemption. 

“Every thought is just a thought until you assign it meaning.” — Angie Alexander, founder of Friends with OCD 

Written passionately, from five viewpoints —meet Katie, Callum and Maisie MacDonald. Second wife, Lilah, and Callum’s best friend, Jake.

 

 

A post shared by Judith D Collins (@judithdcollins) on Jan 14, 2018 at 11:04pm PST




In Raleigh, NC after the birth of Katelyn (Katie) and Callum’s daughter Maisie, Katelyn begins experiencing harmful thoughts and images. As a mother, she is afraid she will hurt her child. She wants to protect her, and she doesn’t understand what is happening. She wants nothing more than to be a good mother. She worries about everything. Her daughter's safety. 

Katelyn has told no one of her private horror movies playing inside her head. Violent images. Not Cal, not the doctors. Images that play over and over. She is powerless. They may take her away from Maisie. She would lose her forever. She wants to protect her. They would lock her away and think she was crazy. 

She had told the doctor she was worried all the time and he said it was depression and PTSD. Easy fix, they say, “pills and think happy thoughts.” She knows nothing of postpartum OCD. 

Katelyn has a haunting past. According to the professional, adults never escape their childhoods. She saw her mother stab her father at the kitchen table. The dad ran off, and her mom prayed and drank, while she raised her baby sister, Delaney. She was only twelve years old. 

When she finally asks for help, her husband does not understand. He has his inner demons (which he has not shared with his wife). She senses her husband is terrified of her. 

Flash forward we hear from Callum (Professor) which is now raising ten-year-old daughter Maisie. He is newly married to Lilah which is pregnant. 

Jake (uncle J) has been a best friend of Callum’s since grade school and is single. He is a big part of their lives. We also learn later in the book; he also has secrets of the past. Why is he so engrossed in their lives?

Katie (former Katelyn) now a metal artist living in Durham, NC. She works with Ben, the star of the studio. He took her on as a project, years earlier when she became his intern. 

Her work takes her to a docent program in Raleigh, where she lived with Callum and her daughter. She is very nervous about returning to the area. Her anxiety level is high. 

A student. A talented fifth grader, Maisie. Her daughter. She believes her mother is dead. Katelyn now goes by the name of Katie Mack. She keeps quiet and enjoys interacting with the girl. Her precious daughter. However, immediately, she suspects her daughter has inherited her OCD. 

She has all the signs. She becomes concerned for her well-being. She knows what she will face and how she thinks. She will be the one to help her. However, how will she convince Cal, his new wife, and J she has Maisie's best interest at heart?

“OCD goes after what matters most." Tortures you with your worst-case scenario — Staying away from Raleigh was no different from dumping all the knives in the trash nine years earlier. Avoidance.

Katie still hears the voices inside her head. However, she has learned to deal with them differently. She knows she has OCD. OCD lies. It does not go away; however, it is up to her to manage them. 

A woman desperate, abandoned her daughter and family because she thought she, was a monster. Living with her dog in a tent for seventeen months with her dog until he died. She wanted to go home, but suicide seemed the only option. 

When that did not work, she knew she had to do something. Without the resources and money to get the help she needed. Self-directed therapy. She grew up with an unfit mother and knew she did not want that for Maisie.

She decided to tackle her fear. She had nothing to lose. Her first welding class. If she could control fire and make something beautiful of it, she could do so with her life. 

The author cleverly unravels the past and the horrific journey of Katie. From being alone, helpless, homeless, with no health insurance, or anywhere to turn. At one point she turned to suicide but was saved. With her sister’s help and her new career, she was making a life for herself. She continues to tell herself. 

“I control fire; I am strong. I’m a welder who works in a helmet decorated with Power Girl stickers.”

This time she will not leave. However, with this disease, stressful situations bring out the beast. She will help her daughter before it is too late. For nine years she had backed herself into a corner and played into the hands of OCD. Convinced herself staying away was the right thing to do. She had remained dead to both Cal and her daughter.

This time she will face her fears. She will be there for her daughter. Katie may be the one person who is instrumental in everyone facing their demons of the past. Understanding mental illness 

Riveting and thought-provoking! The author gets into the minds and hearts of each character. Each person plays an essential part in the overall storyline. (the twist with Cal and Jake) Thereby, providing further depth. Their history, tragedies, anxieties, fears (both past and present). TPBU is not a story just for women. Men play a big part and highly recommend to all readers and genders, and especially parents and grandparents. 

THE PROMISE BETWEEN US reminds me of the show (I love) This is Us. (well-received) And back for the next season. Especially this past week’s new episode with (Kevin) in therapy and the family is called in for a joint session. It is not pretty. The blame and addictions start rolling in. 

When reading, Jake strongly reminds me of Kevin in some ways. (actor, meltdown, obsessive, self-absorbed, etc.) Now in therapy. Randall is successful, has OCD, and childhood issues; Kate has an eating disorder. Jack, the dad, is an alcoholic. 

An excellent example of how those close to these persons cope and their troubled relationships. The Pearson family's generational story unfolds in this TV emotional drama. In moments of love, joy, triumph, and heartbreak; much like the MacDonalds in THE PROMISE BETWEEN US. 

An often misunderstood illness leads people to make desperate decisions, which change the course of their lives. A group of people trapped in a difficult situation with difficulties. A ripple effect on those they hold close.

Riveting, suspenseful and enlightening. Every person should read this book. You will learn something and be more sympathetic and understanding of others. The instant I finished reading, immediately called my son to discuss my grandson. 

On a personal note: I have a bit of OCD (not the voices, intrusive thoughts, or images); however, with perfectionism in work. A strong desire to have everything to carry out a certain way, home meticulously organized, disliking disruptions, and finding it difficult to stop until a task is complete. A total driven workaholic. 

This form of life causes internal and external stress and anxiety, which is not good for your health, especially your heart. Ironically my dad, myself, and my son have the heart issues, auto-immune problems, difficulties sleeping, highly creative, artistic, and Type A driven personalities. A week before my dad passed away at 84 he is worried about vacuuming the carpet and dusting the ceiling fans. 

You look at others and wonder how they can sit down and relax when something is not complete? Unthinkable. I inherited this from my dad, and have passed it down to my younger son (drives his wife nuts), and now my eight-year-old grandson (very artistic and a worrier). 

Often people without these tendencies say, "just get it over it." It will not go away, as the book reiterates. However, with the understanding of those around you, the education and proper help, it can be managed.

The author does an extraordinary job tackling the topic of mental illness with meticulous research and well-developed characters. 

 



The characters tell the story. (this must have been a bear to write). Hat's off to the author! An absorbing (inspiring) journey of one woman’s story of motherhood, love, and determination. Your heart will go out to Katie. She was the perfect person to reach out to Maisie. Often kids will shut down with their parents. If only every child had a "someone" to turn to for understanding. 

The title, THE PROMISE BETWEEN US, speaks volumes. More than one promise. More than one with mental illness in this story. Some only hide their illness. White skillfully demonstrates how everyone has a different form of the disease. Everyone handles it differently. 

When spiraling out of control, it can be devastating. From childhood to adulthood. OCD is an illness of the mind. When thoughts are not the problem, but how we deal with them. 

Written with intensity, and a mix of humor, a total package from the first page to the last. Not an ordinary family drama. It almost reads like domestic suspense. It is riveting, and readers will be turning the pages dying to discover the mystery behind Cal and Jake's personalities. 

Plus a former Piedmont Triad NC native, love, and support NC authors. 

The author is at the "top of her game." A perfect choice for book clubs with discussion question included the inspiration behind the book and additional resources for OCD.

Highly recommend! While all White's books I have read have been 5 stars; this one is on a higher level, a 5 Star + +. For fans of Jodi Picoult and Diane Chamberlain and of course, the TV series, This is Us. 

A special thank you to Lake Union and #NetGalley for an advanced reading copy. Have also pre-ordered the audiobook performed by Justine Eyre.

JDCMustReadBooks

 

 

 

Advance Praise

 

“If you leave your newborn child because you have unstoppable thoughts of harming her, are you a good mother or a terrible one? This dilemma is at the heart of Barbara Claypole White’s novel, a wrenching story of how one woman’s OCD has a ripple effect on those around her—including the people she tried hardest to protect. This is an eye-opening and realistic exploration of mental illness—a topic that greatly deserves to be front and center.” —Jodi Picoult, New York Times bestselling author of Small Great Things

 

“Barbara Claypole White does not merely write about people with mental illness—she inhabits them; she IS Katelyn, the young mother overcome with images of killing her new baby, the mother who leaves her baby to keep her safe…Later White IS that same child, Maisie, now beginning to struggle with OCD herself—and all Maisie’s worries, all her thoughts and the details of her pre-teen life are precisely, exactly right. Perfect. White knows how to tell a story, too, how to fully create each additional realistic and fascinating character, and also how to increase suspense as the family drama unfolds. This brilliant novel about obsessive compulsive disorder is compulsively readable.” —Lee Smith, New York Times bestselling author of The Last Girls

 

“In The Promise Between Us, bestselling author Barbara Claypole White explores survival, shame, and above all, compassion. With the deft hand of a true artist, she creates complex characters, whose lives have been ravaged by mental illness—when it goes unchecked and through its tumultuous effect on generations of women from one family. Readers will be drawn into Katie Mack’s world, they’ll root for her and her daughter, Maisie. The Promise Between Us redefines motherhood and sacrifice, delivering a heartfelt story with a powerful message.” —Laura Spinella, bestselling author of the Ghost Gifts trilogy and Unstrung

 

“Barbara Claypole White knocks it out of the park with her latest family saga, The Promise Between Us. In this riveting page-turner, Claypole White digs deep into the intricacies of her characters’ lives and the devastating effects of a mental illness when left unchecked. It can easily be classified as a story about motherhood, family, and sacrifice. But mostly, it’s a tale of love, redemption, and renewal. The Promise Between Us has something for everyone: suspense, romance, and even a hint of mystery. A fast-paced read that captivates from the first word until the last. A definite book club selection that I highly recommend.” —Kerry Lonsdale, Wall Street Journal and Amazon Kindle bestselling author of Everything We Keep

 

“In The Promise Between Us, Barbara Claypole White masters the art of bringing a reader up close and personal to the influences and forces of a mental illness. In this powerhouse of a story, Katelyn MacDonald’s decision to give up the precious gift of raising her baby, Maisie, in order to protect her, makes for a compelling page-turner. This is an in-depth portrayal of what it means to live in a world where every single thought or action comes into question; it is a story for the times, a story filled with stark realities; but most important of all, it is a story about hope, healing, and the strength of a mother’s love.” —Donna Everhart, USA Today bestselling author of The Education of Dixie Dupree

 

“With The Promise Between Us, Barbara Claypole White gives us compelling characters and wonderfully complex relationships to shed important light on too little known, too little discussed challenges of mental illness.” —Laurie Frankel,bestselling author of This Is How It Always Is

 

“Some books make you stop and think, and compel you to examine your own perceptions, how you feel about an issue. The Promise Between Us is such a book. The complication at the heart of the story is riveting: suffering symptoms of postpartum OCD that could lead to her harming her newborn, a young mother does what would be unthinkable for most new mothers. She leaves her baby in order to protect her. Is it the right decision? As the consequences continue to ripple out over the next several years, lives are unraveled and rebuilt in ways that are surprising, sometimes painful, often joyful. Combining elements of suspense and romance with laugh-out-loud doses of wonderful humor for leavening, this is ultimately a story about the redemptive power of love. This is Barbara Claypole White at her finest.” —Barbara Taylor Sissel, author of The Truth We Bury

 

 

About the Author

 

 

Bestselling author Barbara Claypole White writes hopeful family drama with a healthy dose of mental illness. Originally from England, she writes and gardens in the forests of North Carolina, where she lives with her beloved OCD family. Her previous novels include The Unfinished Garden, The In-Between Hour, The Perfect Son, and Echoes of Family. She is also an OCD Advocate for the A2A Alliance, a nonprofit group that promotes advocacy over adversity. To connect with Barbara, please visit www.barbaraclaypolewhite.com or follow her on Facebook. She’s always on Facebook.  Read More 

 

 

 

Source: www.judithdcollinsconsulting.com/single-post/2017/12/01/The-Promise-Between-Us
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review 2018-01-02 08:31
Just Between Us
Just Between Us - Rebecca Drake

By: Rebecca Drake

ISBN:  9781250167200

Publisher: St.  Martin's Press

Publication Date: 1/9/2018

Format: Paperback

My Rating: 5 Stars 

 

Rebecca Drake returns following Only Ever You with her latest twisty and intense domestic suspense/psychological thriller JUST BETWEEN US. In the theme of Big Little Lies, a story of four suburban mothers who become immersed in a deadly crime. 

Friends and bystanders get more than they bargained for by helping out a friend in need. 

“You never really know what happens in someone else’s marriage.” 

Set in suburban, Pittsburgh, PA readers are introduced to four women: Alison, Julie, Sarah, and Heather. Between their children and husbands, and their busy lives, they love their favorite coffee shop on Friday mornings. Told from four different POVs.

Julie is a multi-million dollar producer–a successful real estate agent married to Brian a VP of business development for a significant medical device firm. She believes in staying positive. Very social, an extrovert and a great organizer. Red-hair and energic. Obsessed with fitness, yoga, and healthy diet.

Sarah is little harder to like (by Alison). A former lawyer, with other hidden issues. Prickly at times. Alison envied the relationship between Julie and Sarah. They had a friendship before she came along. Sarah is beautiful, biracial and wears lots of brightly colored scarves and jewelry. Sarah did not have the patience for whining. She is very can-do and opinionated. She is married to Eric, a teacher and they pinch pennies with a family of five. 

Heather, a former model married to a famous plastic surgeon Viktor. Son Daniel. They have the glamorous life and a large home and staff. She now is a SAHM (stay-at-home-mom), like Sarah, with of course— a much more substantial household income. 

Alison is an IT consultant, and the women think she has an overactive imagination. She is tall and introverted. (She is the most intriguing). My pick. She had little interest in the country-club life or team sports. She comes across a little desperate, lonely, and needy to the others. She and Michael had moved to Pittsburgh because of Michael’s job transfer. No one knew her unfortunate past. The women think she is negative at times. Often her personality rubs Sarah the wrong way. 

Julie and Alison had kept their careers. Sarah and Heather had not. There was a big difference between the disposal income of course between Heather and Sarah. 

Each of the women has their juicy dark secrets. (Heather, in particular). 

Alison is the first to be suspicious of Heather and her bruises. When comforted, she brushes it off. The other women do not seem to suspect a problem with the handsome and charming doctor. Even the broken dishes in the house. Could it have been something sexual she does not want to discuss? 

Should they mind their own business or try and help? Julie thought Alison was wrong. Is Alison too overly cautious due to her family history? 

Even though Heather denies it at first; however, she ultimately confesses. (think Big Little Lies Celeste and Perry Wright). (things do not play out the same.) She pretends all is ok in their household. From the exterior, they looked like the perfect family. 

The friends begin their own sleuthing and investigating into Viktor’s past. His former wife died. However, was it accidental? They slowly discover secrets Heather has not shared until it is too late. Things get complicated. The women fear for her safety and her young son. 

“The strange thing about a secret is it longs to be told.” Suddenly that is all you can think about.

Then the call comes. Someone is dead. 

Self-defense? A crime scene. How involved will they become? There are secrets in every marriage. This is "only" the beginning of the unraveling. 

Nothing, or no one is as they appear. 

“There are no monsters, just deeply flawed people, all of us given that power to choose, some of us making choices to damaging that they ruin the lives of those they claim to love.” 

Drake cranks up the intensity and the adrenaline. She expertly weaves a web of deceit and lies and keeps the reader guessing what will come next. 

You feel the fear and hysteria from each of the women. The mistrust. In the blink of an eye, things change, and everyone is making impulsive decisions which lead to consequences.

At 40-45% into the book, you wonder what could be coming next? Plenty! It is just getting started. 

 



Someone is watching. Were they not careful enough? A letter. Photos. Blackmail. Video Things get very complicated. 

Action-packed, the hidden secrets behind the façade of ordinary women, across social classes and moral lines. How far would you go to protect a friend? Friendships tested. Betrayal. 

Had they been duped? Will they turn on one another? Who can be trusted? Excusing behaviors. 

“Brushing way the inconsistencies in character. Finding plausibility in the implausible because we want to believe the person we love is incapable of ugliness.” 

The lies we tell ourselves and others. Lines are not always clear between good and evil. Perpetrator and victim. 

On a serious note, a peek inside of domestic abuse and violence. It is not always wrapped, in a clear package. 

“We hurt those that we love; we make choices that we can’t undo, we throw ourselves headlong into battles in the name of rescuing people who never asked to be saved.”

With all this sleuthing, not sure how they could find the time for their families. However, I was dying to know what happens. Hooked from page one to the grand finale. 

JUST BETWEEN US, will keep you reading past your bedtime to learn the secrets held close. I enjoyed the different POVs from the women. The drama was balanced nicely with suspense and humor. Some clever twists and turns you are not expecting. Unpredictable. 

I am glad the author chose to end the book with Alison speaking. Very fitting. Underneath the drama, a cautionary tale. The novel is an ideal choice for book clubs and further discussions. 

For fans of Desperate Housewives, and twisty domestic suspense thrillers. A few come to mind:

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty, The Perfect Neighbors by Sarah Pekkanen, Behind Closed Doors by B. A. Paris, The Night the Lights Went Out by Karen White, The Good Girl by Mary Kubica, and The Drowning Girls by Paula Treick DeBoard. Looking forward to seeing what comes next!

A special thank you to St. Martin's Griffin and #NetGalley for an advanced reading copy. 

JDCMustReadBooks

 

 

Advance Praise

 

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

 

"Rebecca Drake's Just Between Us is suspense at its best--a riveting, fast-paced psychological thriller that brilliantly explores the limits of friendship and the secrets we keep from one another." ― New York Times bestselling author Lisa Scottoline

 

"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

 

 

 

 

 

 

About the Author

Photo Credit: Joseph Mertz

 

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. Read More  

 

 

Source: www.judithdcollinsconsulting.com/single-post/2017/08/17/Just-Between-Us
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review 2017-12-30 20:39
The Wife Between Us
The Wife Between Us - Greer Hendricks,Sarah Pekkanen

By:  Greer HendricksSarah Pekkanen

ISBN: 9781250130921

Publisher: St. Martin's Press

Publication Date: 01/09/2018

Format: Hardcover

My Rating:  5 Stars + + +

 

OMG! THE WIFE BETWEEN US by creative, talented duo, Sarah Pekkanen, (journalist and author of seven previous novels—all of which Hendricks edited) and Greer Hendricks (a former Simon & Schuster editor -authorial debut), is worthy of all the "hype" surrounding the most-anticipated psychological suspense thriller novel of 2018, and "then some." 

From the stunning front cover, the first page—to the explosive, shocking conclusion. MIND-BENDING! Unreliable Narrator. 

The authors cleverly unravel the characters' intimate secrets and deception, until the raw truth revealed. Divided into Prologue, Part One, Two, Three, and the Epilogue. Do not miss a thing. The summary is spot-on. Do not assume anything. Get ready for a wild roller-coaster ride.

The truth between the lies. 

Between the wives, there is a man named Richard. A charming, good-looking, successful hedge fund manager. We soon realize this man is not as he seems. You suspect he is a controlling, abusive, narcissist and a psycho, through the eyes of one woman. This woman must be the angry ex-wife.

Vanessa was married to Richard. We are not sure what happened to their marriage. She has lost all her material possessions and works as a sales associate at Saks on the designer-label third floor. She depends on commissions. 

Richard got the house in Westchester and the Manhattan apartment. The cars, stocks, savings. She never put up a fight. She entered the marriage with nothing. She had not borne him children. She had been deceitful. She had not been a good wife. 

She is thankful she has a few suitcases filled with more exceptional clothing from her former lifestyle since she needs to look the part. She resides with her aunt bohemian artist, Charlotte. Her husband died years before. She had accepted a small lump sum payment she would use to help her aunt. 

Vanessa is hiding something from her past in Florida. (sounds like South Florida- Miami- important for us Floridians). A mysterious past which led her to New York. 

"My husband kept me off-balance for years. He tried to erase me." The bride and groom cake topper. 

Currently, Vanessa is stalking a younger woman. Does this younger version of her former self-remind her of how her life began the downward spiral. The one, leaving her now single. Now her old friends, come into the store, and she waits on them. They pity her. 

 



Richard had kicked her out of the Westchester house. However was she happy, or sad about this decision? Who had controlled the demise of this marriage? Was she relieved to escape this man? Fortunate to be alive? 

She envisions him in the Mercedes with his new younger woman. The woman he left her for. It started before their divorce. She now drinks and takes pills to dull the pain. 

The other woman is Nellie. Vanessa has to stop her before she marries Richard. When she discovered they were engaged, she almost flipped. However, there is more here than meets the eye. 

Vanessa comes across as off balance; however, there are two sides to a coin. She and Richard were unsuccessful in their attempts to have a baby, even with fertility drugs.

Readers learn about another younger woman’s relationship and how she met Richard. A young preschool teacher on a flight. Richard the caring and charming man sweeps her off her feet. Richard wants children. 

Vanessa wonders if the new bride has plans to quit work and devote herself to Richard as she had done. She is obsessed. 

There is also Maureen, Richard’s older sister. After his parents died when he was a teen, Maureen raised him. Does she know how crazy her brother is? 

“But as long as he is with her – the woman who blithely stepped up to become the new Mrs. Richard Thompson while I pretended to be oblivious – I will never have peace.”

Nellie loves her pre-school teaching job and works nights as a waitress with a fun-loving roommate Sam. She is unsure she wants to get married. Unsure she wants to leave the city life for the suburbs and a man who seems controlling, but he loves her, right?

Again, ASSUME nothing . . . Does Venessa want to protect her replacement from Richard, warn her, or is she just jealous? Don’t shoot the messenger. 

Intense, twisty, mind-blowing suspense. THE WIFE BETWEEN US is like a game of cat-and-mouse. Which person is manipulating the other? A tug of war. However, no one has the real facts. The reveal is brilliant. 

The fun part is trying to figure out this triangle. The secrets and motives from Florida and all the missing pieces – worth the wait! As twisty, riveting, spellbinding, and addictive as Gone Girl or The Girl on the TrainI liked it better. 

Sarah Pekkanen (one of my all-time favorite authors-have read all her books) and her talented editor for many years Greer Hendricks (impressive bio) — what a remarkable team!. Can only imagine the fun these two have writing together. No wonder TWBU has been picked up for the next blockbuster movie. I want a front row seat. 

Plus, think of all the deliciously good books to come in the future.Hear they are busy working on their second book (not a sequel). 

Firstly, when you view the cover and its title you think, “the wife between us.” Who could this person be? Could it be a husband and a soon to be bride with an ex-wife or a current wife between the couple? Or, could it be a wife- to- be, and an ex-wife #1 with the ex-wife #2 between them? Or all sorts of wild scenarios. Will there be a wife #3 and why don’t they all meet to compare notes? 

Trust me; there is nothing predictable here. Cleverly crafted (the editor/author), highly creative minds have outsmarted the reader.

When you get to this point in the book, you will question: “What in the heck? What did I miss? Rewinding the pages. However, you did not miss anything. Hang on; the plot soon to be revealed. Do not put the book down. No way you can. Unputdownable.

The secrets and lies of dating, marriage, divorce. Don’t settle for sloppy seconds. For fans of B.A. Paris Behind Closed Doors. Another book I am looking forward to reading: The Woman in the Window, Readers are receiving the "best" of the literary world's experience.

A special thank you (a big huge & kiss), to Goodreads giveaway and St. Martin's Press for an advanced digital reading copy. I have pre-ordered the audiobook (this should be fantastic, performed by Julia Whelan (I adore), Listen to Clip and pre-ordered the hardcover for my library!

 

 



What a way to start 2018! Have a feeling this is going to be a year for the thriller novels turned movie. 

‘Girl on the Train’ Team Takes on ‘The Wife Between Us’ Hollywood Reporter 

Looking forward to Sarah Pekkanen's The Ever After: A Novel Coming June 5, 2018, enthralling domestic drama, perfect for fans of Big Little Lies.

JDCMustReadBooks 

BTW, I was wife #2, saved wife #1, and did I want to protect wife#3? Heck No. Figure it out on your own. Good riddance

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Source: www.judithdcollinsconsulting.com/single-post/2017/08/22/The-Wife-Between-Us
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