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review 2019-11-08 13:24
A solid first novel for lovers of psychological suspense and Basset Hounds
Closer Than You Think - Lee Maguire

Disclaimer: the publisher offered me a free ARC copy of this book. This this not affect my review.

In brief, this is a promising debut novel (in a planned series of psychological thrillers), narrated in the first person, with a solid stalker plot (clues, red-herrings and twists likely to make most readers of the genre happy), an interesting setting (a mental health treatment facility for troubled youths) and a good development of the main character (psychologist Bryce Davison, a man with an unsettled and traumatic past), and a wonderful Basset Hound. On the minus side, it could do with a tighter editing, more development of the secondary characters, and more attention to the pacing of the action.

This book will be especially appealing to those who enjoy psychological suspense, with particular emphasis on the “psychological” part. The author’s professional experience shines through, and that aspect of the novel is particularly well achieved, although it might seem overdetailed to people used to faster-paced thrillers.

The first-person point of view works well for the type of story, as it allows readers to share in the doubts and thoughts of the victim, experiencing his anxiety, reliving the trauma he experienced when he was young, and also trying to piece together the clues with him. On the other hand, the novel reads, at times, like a poorly focused memoir, with plenty of repetition of everyday living activities and chores that don’t help move the action forward and don’t add much to our understanding of the character. (There are so many times we can read about the character having a shower, the fact that his fridge is empty, or his switching or on off the computer). I’ve read novels that meander through stuff that does not seem particularly noteworthy, but the style of writing makes it impossible not to enjoy the detour. In this novel, neither the style of writing nor the genre are best suited for it. The other characters are not very well developed, partly perhaps to do with the choice of point of view, and in some cases, like Bryce’s wife, that has the effect of making them appear inconsistent or totally at odds with the protagonist’s opinion of them.

The suspenseful plot and the way it builds up work well, although I agree with some of the reviewers that complain about the ending and the final explanation being too rushed. The story is not heavy on action or violence, although there is some, and the ending itself is satisfying.

As I said, this is a solid first novel that could be further improved by another round of editing, and I’d recommend it to people who prefer psychological suspense and who value plot over character building. Also recommended to Basset Hound lovers.


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review 2017-06-30 04:25
The Girl On The Train
The Girl on the Train: A Novel - Paula Hawkins


Title: The Girl On The Train: A Novel
Author: Paula Hawkins
Publisher: Riverhead Books
Reviewed By: Arlena Dean
Rating: 4

"The Girl On The Train: A Novel" by Paula Hawkins

My Thoughts.....

This novel was quite some read that will have so many twist and turns where you will have to keep up to fully understand what in the world is going on. "The Girl On The Train" was one psychological thriller mystery suspenseful read that will keep your attention as you are turning the pages to get to the end to see who was this killer. I found the characters well developed, portrayed and so very interesting that will make one wonder about people you meet and their lives. Wow, what a read that after all is said and done all of this stemming from a train ride and how a lie can really go haywire.


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review 2016-08-06 21:16
Amnesia Labyrinth (manga, vol. 1) story by Nagaru Tanigawa, art by Natsumi Kohane, translation by Nan Rymer
Amnesia Labyrinth, Vol. 1 - Natsumi Kohane,Nagaru Tanigawa

I'll start by saying that the description on the back of the volume contains several incorrect statements. There is no evidence that Souji's sisters' clingy behavior is anything new. Also, I don't know if Souji and Yukako start dating in the next volume, but Yukako is not Souji's new girlfriend in this one. Now, on to my description.

Souji is a high school student who left his family home some time ago. He had hoped never to return, but sometimes we don't get what we want. At any rate, his three sisters are thrilled he's back. Harumi, his stepsister, is sweet and quiet and clearly has a crush on him. The real problems, though, are Youko and Saki. Youko is Souji's full sister. She possibly has a split personality, and she's certainly a vaguely malevolent presence in the household, glaring daggers at Souji even as she cuddles up to him in a more than sisterly sort of way. Saki is the daughter of Souji's father and Souji's father's mistress. She works as one of the family's maids and, when the other sisters aren't around, sleeps with Souji. And possibly also Kazushi, Souji's older brother. Kazushi, meanwhile, may be lurking somewhere nearby.

At school, Souji instantly comes to the attention of Yukako, the self-proclaimed sole member of the student council's “Intelligence Committee.” It's Yukako who tells Souji of the three murders that occurred at the end of the summer, shortly before he arrived. The school's smartest student was stabbed. After that came the track team's star runner, also stabbed. Then the student council president was pushed in front of a train. Yukako wants to know why the killer chose those particular victims, especially since she had a crush on the student council president. She basically forces Souji to join her, but Souji secretly thinks he knows who was responsible: Youko, his sister.

I think I picked this volume up in the clearance section during a used book shopping trip. I wasn't aware, at the time, that this was only a 2-volume series. It wouldn't be hard for me to either buy the second volume or get it via interlibrary loan, but...I don't know that I want to. Even that small amount of effort feels like too much.

This series' vibe reminds me of When They Cry, only with added incest and less playing around with tropes. Souji is a boring blank slate. He's supposedly good at everything – a star athlete, top student, handsome enough that all the girls fall for him (including all of his sisters) – but if Yukako hadn't repeatedly said how awesome he was, I'd have guessed he was a stereotypical loner geek with no friends and creepily affectionate sisters.

The creepy sisters thing was apparent right from the start, although the only one who seemed to genuinely creep Souji out was Youko. He took Harumi's devotion in a stride and saw it as destiny that he and Saki regularly slept together. I had a feeling he would have easily accepted Youko's habit of draping herself on him all the time if she hadn't also radiated hostility. The first time readers saw her, she was standing at the other end of a dark room, glaring at Souji. Also, when she unexpectedly visited Souji's school, Souji could sense her presence well before he saw her, in the form of a chill running down his spine.

This first volume was jam-packed with mysterious elements: Souji's gross relationship with his sisters, the murders, the hints that Souji's older brother was lurking somewhere in the background but refusing to reveal himself, Souji's reason for leaving in the first place, the possible references to “other selves” (either other personalities or doppelgangers), and the hints that Souji and/or Youko and Saki had previously killed someone.

I'm just not sure I have it in me to care. Souji was a boring guy who only got involved in the murder investigation because Yukako dragged him into it, and his relationship with his sisters was extremely off-putting. The storytelling was sloppy and unfocused, especially for something that was going to wrap up in only one more volume. And I shouldn't have to find out the answers to certain questions, like “why does Saki work as a maid in the family's household?”, by reading the character profiles.


  • Character profiles for Youko, Saki, Harumi, Souji, and Yukako.
  • A brief message from the author that makes this entire project sound like a mess from the very start. Apparently Amnesia Labyrinth started off as a story idea that Tanigawa couldn't figure out how to turn into a full novel. Or even a 2-volume manga series: “Although an overall plot does exist for this story, when everything was said and done, I sort of ran out of things to write, and therefore I admit there are a number of lazy, phantom passages scattered throughout.” Who includes a note like that in something they're hoping strangers will buy? On the plus side, it makes me more confident about my decision not to continue on with the series.
  • A one-page note from the character designer, of all people. Why the character designer and not the illustrator? And why did the series have both a character designer and an illustrator?
  • Translation notes for a few terms, the most important one being “yogare,” which is probably the key to understanding what's going on with Souji's sister, and maybe Souji himself. Perhaps Souji's older brother, who looks an awful lot like an evil version of Souji, is really his doppelganger?
  • A 12-page preview of Gunslinger Girl.


(Original review, including read-alikes and watch-alikes, posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)

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text 2016-07-14 11:34
FREE ebook Tell Me A Secret: A Mystery Psychological Suspense by Ann Girdharry
Tell Me A Secret: A Mystery Psychological Suspense (Tales of the Unexpected Mystery and Psychological Suspense Series Book 3) - Ann Girdharry
FREE #ebook Tell Me A Secret: A #Mystery Psychological #Suspense by Ann Girdharry
Deceit, lies and secrets...
How well do we know those closest to us?
Jared and Nalini have been married for eighteen months. They enjoy an affluent lifestyle but all is not as it seems. Nalini is a complex character, emotionally fragile and with a troubled past. Jared has his own failings, not least a passion for alluring women.
Their past lives are fast catching up, along with old deceptions and lies. When a stranger comes to stand sentinel outside their house, time is up for Nalini and Jared.
Source: www.amazon.com/Tell-Me-Secret-Psychological-Unexpected-ebook/dp/B013GSUGB0 #freeebooks
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review 2014-10-02 06:35
Judgment (A Cassidy & Spenser Thriller) by Carey Baldwin



I can either do a clinical review or write down what I feel at this very moment. Oh, let me do both and get it over with.

Let's start with the emotional reaction. It scared the DNA out of my family tree. It had me jumping out of my own skin into another personality type. It had all the juices in my body curdling in my ear drums. It made my petrous bone shudder and shake. I almost did not make it, honest to God.

If you know Dr.Kay Scarpetta in Patricia Cornwell's psychological thrillers, and you loved it, this is the book for you! Be my guest. Enjoy!

As I explained my reaction to the Scarpetta series, to a friend on Goodreads, I almost did not make it that time either. The difference between now and then is, that I read those books during the night, never slept a wink, locked all the doors, locked hubsters out, taped the windows closed, insisted on the guard dogs sleeping on my bed, check the cats'nails, instructed them to attack anyone trying to open my bedroom door, and curled up in terror until all three books were finished. 

When I started this book last night I was too tired to continue reading, so I sneaked it into my office day this morning after starting with it around five already! Thank goodness I did not continue last night.

I am not trying to be funny, but if you want to laugh do so and then read the book yourself! Then it will be my turn to holler and howl and I won't feel bad at all for doing just that! I am still shaking.

But nevermind, let's get to the clinical part now.

Dr. Caity Cassidy's father, Thomas, was convicted and executed for the brutal rape and murder of Gail Falconer, fifteen years ago. Caitey attended his execution and pledged to herself that she will get behind the truth. She thought he was innocent. Obviously, the Superior Court in Phoenix, Arizona did not think so. The only man to support her at the event was her father's lawyer, Harvey Baumgartner (Tree gardener in English). He handled her father's case pro bono. They were friends from church - her father's best friend in the end. She was eighteen years old at the time. The event inspired her to climb into the mind of killers, which resulted in her PHD. She became a forensic psychiatrist profiling these mad people. She wanted to prove that her father did not have the psychological make-up to do it. She employed private investigators with no success.

Harvey Baumgarten requested her services for one of his clients, Judd Kramer, in a case against the latter. While consulting in court, a killer walked in and shot everyone. There were four victims. Kramer and his deputy escort-- shot just outside the courthouse, with Baumgartner and Dr. Caitey Cassidy --shot inside. Judd Kramer survived. She barely survived herself. Only because her four year long rival, FBI Special Agent Atticus Spenser (named after Atticus Finch, the hero in To Kill a Mockingbird), saved her life. They’d been on opposite sides of a contentious case more than once. And there was also that personal incident a few years back . . . but fortunately no one knew about that little gem of a disaster except Spense and her.

They had no other choice but to work together on this case. Caitey's ordeal was not over, as they soon found out. The killer did not target her by accident. There was to be a second round and she needed protection. Spencer offered it. She had to move in with him.

He baffled her. One thing she noticed was that he always had a miniature Rubik’s cube, attached to a keychain, in his pocket. He often pulled it out, scrambled it, solved it, and shoved it back in his pants pocket, all in less than a minute. He also knew how to prepare kung pao tofu with edamame,dowsed in a spicy peanut sauce. This man was not only soft on the retinas, he was also multi-talented. Behind his Old Spice must be a story too.

But that just for interest's sake. What really happened after the shootings rocked their world. As in totally. 

Judd Kramer died in hospital, along with the pharmacist. More young women ended up dead. Caitey was now confronted with first the death of Gail Falconer, and now Sally Cartwright, Darlene Dillinger and Annie Bayberry.

Fast moving, thrilling, captivating, entertaining, scary, brilliant! A tale marked by all the elements of a psychological thriller par excellence.

The only rattling bone in my scull is the acronyms and abbreviations that was spread all over the text. I gave up in trying to find them all on the internet. "DETECTIVE RILEY BASKIN paced the precinct lunchroom with a PB and J gripped in his hand" Oy! I thought it was a high caliber murder weapon and was diving for cover, until I peaked through my fingers and realized he was eating it. I could only wish him luck until this moment, because I still don't know what it is!

So yes, let me admit it. I LOVED THIS BOOK !!!

This book is a Witness Impulse, HarperCollins Publication, provided through edelweiss.abovethetreeline.com. for review. Thank you for this wonderful opportunity.

Source: something-wordy-reviews.blogspot.com/2014/10/judgment-cassidy-spenser-thriller-by.html
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