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Posts Tagged ‘psychological thriller’

This was an audiobook narrated by Lucy Price-Lewis, who did an excellent job.

The story revolves around Rose Tinsley, whose 8 year old brother Billy was murder 16 years earlier and as a result, Rose has severe psychological problems. Rose, and her whole village were convinced of who murdered Billy and that the right person is in prison for the offence, but her belief is shaken to the core when she finds something shocking in her elderly next door neighbour’s house. Could it be that the person serving time for the murder is in fact innocent? To find out the truth, Rose must face her fears and examine the past.

The book has two timelines – 16 years earlier which is narrated in the third person, and the present day, which is narrated by Rose. In the earlier timeline, an 18 year old Rose meets Gareth, who is ten years older than her. At first he seems like the perfect charming boyfriend but as times goes on, it becomes clear that he is not all he appears.

This is the third book I have read by K L Slater, and unfortunately I have yet to find one that I really enjoy. As mentioned earlier, I did think the narration was done well by Lucy Price-Lewis, but the storyline itself seemed very repetitive. The main issue I have with this author is that in all her books (at least the ones I’ve read) the women are very weak, and quite frankly spineless and not able to see what is staring them in the face. Meanwhile the males are generally so awful that they are almost like a caricature and just serves to heighten the issue with the women not able to see through them.

The one positive thing I will say was that I liked the resolution to the mystery and I did enjoy Rose’s last scene in the book. Other than that, I found it fairly annoying with dialogue that seemed to go round in circles. There are LOADS of positive reviews for this book online, so it may be that this author is just not for me, but I think I’ll be giving her other books a miss.

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I listened to this in audiobook format, and it was narrated by Lucy Price-Lewis.

Four years after the death of her husband Joel and her subsequent breakdown, Darcy Hilton is finally beginning to look to the future and plan a life with her two sons, Harrison and Kane.

When Kane suffers from an accident during a day out in the park, he is helped by a handsome doctor named George, who quickly becomes Darcy’s friend, and before long, coffee and a cake has turned to dating, and then into a full blown relationship. Joel’s family are not happy as they feel that Darcy is moving too fast with George, and they worry about losing their closeness with Harrison and Kane. But it seems that someone else is trying to cause trouble. A number of sinister incidents cause Darcy to wonder who has it in for them – is it someone from her own past, or maybe the obsessed ex-girlfriend of George? And why is George’s housekeeper Maria so cold towards Darcy?

As the truth is revealed, Darcy starts to worry that she and her boys are heading towards danger.

I don’t like leaving negative reviews, but unfortunately this book did not really work for me on any level. The first problem is that the book is full of stupid women, making stupid decisions, and doing stupid things. Some of the things that happened to Darcy might as well have had flashing red lights spelling DANGER above them, but she still managed to convince herself that all was fine. And the ending was ludicrous and in no way believable – almost comically so. The writing was clunky in places with certain significant points being made, and then apparently forgotten about.

K L Slater certainly has many fans, judging by other reviews I have read of her books, so don’t let my review put you off if this book appeals to you. However, having read two of her books and reached the same conclusion with both, I am sorry to say that I don’t think she is an author I can enjoy.

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This was an audiobook narrated by Lisa Coleman, and is the seventh book in the DCI Tom Douglas series. I have previously listened to another book which is later in the series than this one, and while there are personal aspects of Tom’s life included in the storyline, it is easy enough to follow as a standalone novel, or if you do the same as me and read/listen out of order.

Tom and his team are called in to investigate when a young woman is found dead at a frozen lonely scene. Who is she, and how did she get there? Did she commit suicide or was she murdered? None of these questions are easily answerable.

Meanwhile, a young woman named Callie is trapped in a miserable relationship with an abusive and parasitic boyfriend. When she decides to travel to Myanmar to honour a promise to her grandfather, she befriends an older couple who take her under her wing, and help her realise that she needs to end things with Ian. But when she tries to do so, things take a sinister turn.

And in a lonely kitchen, two women sit and eat their meals in almost complete silence, trapped as they are in a prison of their own making. What are their stories and how did they arrive at this low point?

Slowly all the threads of the stories come together…

I’ll start with the good parts of this audiobook, including the narration. Lisa Coleman did an excellent job, and managed to distinctly voice all of the characters.

I also really like the character of Tom and all of his colleagues. They are believable and likeable – and deserve a better storyline than the one they had here.

Unfortunately the twists and turns in this book were so well signposted that the characters – Callie mainly as large parts of the book are told from her point of view – just end up coming across as unutterably stupid and naive. Without giving anything away, I wanted to shake her for putting up with her awful boyfriend, and then for her subsequent actions, which I won’t reveal here. Many of the characters apart from the officers – and maybe this is because the police characters have had several books through which to develop their characters – were like cardboard cut outs, and never easy to invest in. And there was a huge dollop of coincidence, which never rang true. I did listen to the end, but found myself underwhelmed by the conclusion, which left some strands of storyline hanging.

Despite all of the above, I would consider listening to more in the series, because the investigators were great, and according to other reviewers who have read the whole series, this is a particularly weak book compared to others. So maybe at some point I will pay another visit to Tom Douglas and co.

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I listened to this audiobook, narrated by Philip Stevens, over the course of two weeks. The story is mainly narrated by Ed Collier, with chapters also told in the third person but showing the point of view of other characters.

When Ed and his wife Claire meet their daughter Abby’s boyfriend Ryan for the first time, Ed instantly distrusts him. He is shocked when Abby and Ryan announce that they are going to get married in just over a month, and he instantly determines to find out more about this stranger who has entered their lives, and get his daughter to at least postpone the wedding.

The bulk of the book mainly follows Ed’s investigations, with the last part being the culmination and consequences of what Ed does or doesn’t discover.

I liked the premise of the book, but unfortunately did not find that it lived up to its promise. Whether or not Ed was right about his suspicions (I’m not saying), his instant and extreme reaction seemed unbelievable. Based on literally nothing more than an uneasy feeling, Ed starts following Ryan and using underhand methods to discover more about him, even paying thousands to a private investigator.

The characters – even Ed, who narrates large parts of the book – never really seemed fleshed out or ‘real’ and it was hard to invest in any of them. Abby and Claire were bland, Ed was obsessive and Ryan was a cardboard cut out.

It’s a real shame because there was potential for a great story here. Still, lots of other reviewers online seem to have enjoyed it, so if this a genre you enjoy, you may want to give it a go.

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This was an audiobook narrated by James Lailey. It tells the story of two women – Beth Lawlor and Cath Patterson. Beth is caught in a loveless marriage to Evan but a shocking event helps her make up her mind to leave him and start a new life with her lover. Cath is trapped in a relationship with a physically and mentally abusive junkie named Saul. She knows she has to leave him but fears that if she does he will find her and kill her. A chance meeting leads to a shocking turn of events, and detective Dan Riley is soon put on the case…

The book is told from three points of view – those of Cath and Beth, which are both told in the third person, and that of Dan, which is told in the first person. I preferred the narration for Dan’s parts but I think Beth and Cath’s parts were told with a lack of emotion, which didn’t greatly impact my enjoyment but was noticeable. I do think a female narrator might have been better for those chapters, as they are telling female points of view, but it didn’t stop me liking the book.

This is the third book in the Dan Riley series, which I didn’t realise until I started listening, but it makes no difference as it can easily be enjoyed as a stand alone novel.

Anyhow, I don’t want to give away anything else about the storyline, but I will say that I enjoyed this book a lot and would definitely consider reading or listening to more books by this author. If I had to nitpick, I would say that a couple of chapters – in both cases conversations between two characters – could have done with cutting down somewhat, and also the whole premise of this story relies on a huge coincidence which struck me as very unlikely. But if you can suspend your disbelief and just go with it, this is on the whole an enjoyable and interesting read (or listen). If you are a fan of mysteries I would probably recommend this one.

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I listened to this as an audiobook narrated by Tuppence Middleton. I have to say that if it had been a physical book, I would probably have thrown it against the wall in frustration. Mainly due to the utter stupidity of the title character. (Yes, I’ve gone in early with my opinion on this one and you have probably guessed that I didn’t like it.)

Freya Miller has money problems after her husband first left her for another woman and then died. She has to move out of the house and find somewhere cheaper to live for her and her five year old daughter Skye. When she is approached by stranger named Dr Marsden in a coffee shop and offered an apartment in the Kensington based Adder House, which he owns, she thinks it’s too good to be true. Freya can not dream of being able to afford such a fabulous home, but Dr Marsden says she can live there for whatever she can afford, however little.

At this point, alarm bells would be going off ALL OVER THE PLACE for me but Freya, apparently just can’t believe her luck. When she moves in, there are red flags everywhere – such as mysterious noises in her flat, furniture being moved around and the Marsdens wanting to install a spy camera right inside her flat. You would think she would get out straight away, right? But nope. She just keeps banging on about how this is a fresh start for herself and Skye, and my eyes just kept rolling almost out of their head.

Anyway, the ending was partly predictable and partly frankly ridiculous. So utterly daft as to be almost funny. If it was a film it would definitely come under the ‘so bad it’s good’ category.

Tuppence Middleton’s narration was….okay. When she was voicing Freya she was fine and any annoyance I had came from Freya’s unbelievable stupidity. However, Freya’s daughter Skye is quite a prominent character and unfortunately the voice Middleton used for Skye was annoying beyond belief.

As you may have guessed I didn’t enjoy this book. I’m not even sure why I stuck with it. There were plot holes and unexplained plot threads. Still every book teaches you something and this taught me not to read anything else by this author.

Sorry if this review sounds harsh, but it’s rare that a book annoys me this much.

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Another audiobook which I listened to while running. Sue and Brian Jackson’s daughter has stepped in front of a bus and lies in a coma. Brian is convinced it was an accident, but Sue believes that Charlotte intended to kill herself and is determined to find out why. As she conducts her own investigation, the story is interspersed with her diary flashbacks which reveal an horrifically abusive relationship with her ex-boyfriend James. Sue believes that after 20 years, James has tracked her down and that her life – and her family’s life is in danger.

Honestly I wanted to like this book. I used to love psychological thrillers and still do sometimes, but there seems to be so many of these kinds of books around at the moment, and consequently there are a lot of cliches – and this book contains them all. James is such a monster that he ends up being a caricature, and Sue was so wishy washy that (in the present day storyline) I found it hard to feel much for her at all. Brian is a background character, who the reader never really got to know, and even though the book is about Charlotte and what may have driven her to try and kill herself, I ended up feeling that she was never a properly developed character. Maybe I’m sick of reading about abusive men and the women who forgive them time and time again – it seems to be a trope in fiction drama lately.

Certain parts of the story did keep me listening, but some situations were ludicrous and the ending was ridiculous beyond belief. I could say why, but it would mean revealing spoilers.

Anyhow, despite the somewhat scathing review, this wasn’t all bad. But it certainly wasn’t all good. I’ll probably be giving this author a miss from now on…but there are plenty of favourable reviews around for this book, so don’t let me put you off!

A note about the narration: I did think Jenny Funnell did a good job, but not good enough to cover the flaws in the story!

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Year of original publication: 2014

Genre: Psychological thriller

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The Blurb:

We’ve all seen him: the man – the monster – staring from the front page of every newspaper, accused of a terrible crime. But what about her: the woman who grips his arm on the courtroom stairs – the wife who stands by him? Jean Taylor’s life was blissfully ordinary. Nice house, nice husband. Glen was all she’d ever wanted: her Prince Charming. Until he became that man accused, that monster on the front page. Jean was married to a man everyone thought capable of unimaginable evil. But now Glen is dead and she’s alone for the first time, free to tell her story on her own terms. Jean Taylor is going to tell us what she knows.

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My thoughts:

First, let me warn anyone who is thinking of reading this, that the blurb on the back cover – as above – is somewhat misleading. Second – I’m in two minds about this one. I definitely think Fiona Barton can write, and the characters were all well drawn and fleshed out.

There are two timelines – 2010, which for the purposes of this novel is the present day, and 2006, which is when the little girl that Glen Taylor was accused of abducting, disappeared. The vast majority of it actually takes place in 2006, with the 2010 storyline concentrating on a journalist called Kate who wants to get Jean’s story.

The chapters are told from separate points of view – ‘The Widow’ – Jean Taylor; ‘The Reporter’ – Kate; ‘The Detective’ – Bob Sparkes who was in charge of the original investigation and is still haunted by the matter years later; and ‘The Mother’ – Dawn, the mother of the abducted child. I liked Bob and I quite liked Kate, but Jean and Dawn both left me cold.

At times the book was very suspenseful, but at times it did drag slightly as there seemed to be a lot of back-and-forth, and did-he/didn’t-he, with the same ground being trodden over. But despite that, I did quite enjoy this book and would almost certainly read more by Fiona Barton. It doesn’t have the twists and turns of a book like Gone Girl, but for my money it’s better written than Gone Girl (and as with every other psychological thriller which has been released since that book, this one has been compared to it – ignore the comparisons, it’s totally different).

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Year of first publication: 2016

Genre: Psychological drama

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A year after her husband Zach’s death in a horrific road crash, Lizzie Carter finally feels able to visit the accident site and leave flowers for him. However when she gets there she sees that someone else has left flowers for him with the name ‘Xenia’ in a note, and she wonders if he had another woman in his life. As Lizzie digs deeper into Zach’s past to try and find out who Xenia is, she discovers all sorts of things which make her question whether she ever really knew him at all.

Interspersed with the chapters narrated by Lizzie in the present day, are chapters from Zach’s diary which start from around the time he and Lizzie met. It is clear from both narratives that Zach has anger issues, and is a sociopath. Lizzie starts to question whether or not he is even dead, or whether he has faked his own death and is now stalking her.

I listened to this as an audiobook, and it was narrated by Penelope Rawlins (Lizzie) and Daniel Weyman (Zach). I thought they both did a good job. Unfortunately however, I did not really enjoy the book. I had previously read Lie With Me by the same author, and enjoyed it, despite it being far-fetched. Based on that, I thought Remember Me This Way would be a good book to pass a few hours while I was out running, but I actually almost gave up on it. The main issue was that there were no redeeming characters at all, except for Lizzie’s dog Howard! I have no issue with unpleasant characters but these were just frustrating. Lizzie herself was a wet blanket who was seemingly incapable of seeing what was staring her in the face and who got walked over not just by her husband, but also by her unbearably selfish sister. The character of Onnie – the teenage daughter of an old friend of Zach – was annoying beyond belief, and I just wanted to shake them all into sense.

I didn’t give up on it and in the end it did keep my fairly occupied, but after it had picked up a bit in the second half, the actual ending turned out to be a bit of a damp squib. I think I am bit fed up of the glut of books about people who turn out not to be who their nearest and dearest thought they were. How many people in recent books have married people with dark secrets in their past? I sometimes feel as though I am reading the same story over and over again, so maybe I need a break from these kinds of stories for a while.

Unfortunately, and based on this book, I would probably not be interested in reading/listening to anything else by this author.

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Paul Morris is a compulsive liar – he lies about his success as a writer, the flat he lives in, his prowess with women; he lies to the people he meets, he lies to himself; he lies about his past, he lies about his future. And he manages to lie his way into a crowd of friends who he once knew briefly, starts a romance with the enigmatic Alice, and wangles his way into joining them for a holiday in Greece. But there are secrets lingering below the surface with these friends – a decade old mystery about a missing girl, and further events which take place during the holiday, all of which cause more trouble for Paul as his lies entangle him further and further into a web of deceit bigger than his own.

I really enjoyed this book, but unfortunately it’s really hard to review without giving away any spoilers. And I REALLY do not want to give away any spoilers, because this is a story with the power to really shock, if you do not know what’s coming.

The narrator is Paul himself, who is actually largely honest with the reader; he openly shares the fact that he lies to everyone else. It’s true that he isn’t very likeable, but it’s fair to say that none of the other characters are particularly likeable either. Alice is somewhat distant, and hard to read, and I was never able to warm to her. Paul’s old friend Andrew is frankly unbearable, and Andrew’s wife Tina, while nicer than the others, is basically a side character with very little to say for herself.

The build up to the climax of the story is fairly slow, but this didn’t bother me. It was well written and I wanted to keep reading to see what would happen. Small and seemingly inconsequential parts of the story did turn out to have a greater significance at the end, and I thought the ending itself was very cleverly done.

If you are a fan of psychological thrillers, and don’t mind a protagonist who you probably won’t want to root for, I would highly recommend this book.

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