I’ve read all four books by Riley Sager (some of them twice), and I will continue to read whatever he writes. He is fantastic when it comes to pacing. He adds just the right amount of sharp detail -- and not a bit more than needed -- to help you visualize the story. And he is a master of plotting, redirects and twists.
In this latest, he does NOT disappoint.
The set up of this story is very similar to the Netflix series The Haunting of Hill House. This isn’t a bad thing, for those (like me!) who loved that series. If you also liked that series, or the source material -- the late, great Shirley Jackson’s incredible novel of the same name -- you’ll most likely really enjoy this gothic, perfect-for-Halloween read.
Maggie Holt is an interior designer who has just inherited a large house in Vermont, called Baneberry Hall, after the recent death of her father. Twenty-five years ago, her family fled the home in terror, and her father wrote a bestselling nonfiction book called House of Horrors, which outlined the incredible experiences they had with the supernatural at Baneberry.
The book alternates between Maggie’s present-day return to Baneberry Hall and chapters from her father’s terrifying bestseller, so that the two experiences unfold in parallel. Originally, Maggie plans to fix up the house and sell it, but as she gets pulled deeper into the secrets of the house, she becomes determined to uncover the truth of what happened in the house so many years ago, even if it kills her.
I really didn’t see the twists and turns coming. I thought I did. I thought I was all smart and had it all figured out, but I was fooled more times than I care to admit. Which is what I love about a great thriller.
Sager’s last book, Lock Every Door, remains my favorite because it is so unique and the characters so bold and specific. Still, I devoured this latest in about a day and loved every page of it. It really is the perfect gothic, super-creepy, haunted house read for October!
It goes without saying that Jonathan Lethem is a talented author. This latest from him is without a doubt imaginative and odd, like most of his work.
The Arrest takes place in a near future in which electricity stops working. Transportation is no more. There is now way for individuals around the world to communicate, beyond seeing each other face to face.
After this tragic turn of events, Sandy Duplessis, who now calls himself the Journeyman, is living in rural Maine. His life, now simple, involves delivering food grown by his sister and assisting the butcher. But before The Arrest happened, he was a screenwriter living in Los Angeles, working with a producer named Peter Todbaum, who is a bit of a morally questionable force of nature.
Now, after The Arrest, Todbaum resurfaces in his life -- for better or worse -- after having driven clear across the country in a retrofitted tunnel-digger powered by a nuclear reactor. While those in Sandy’s community are awed by this machine -- a rare vehicle in a future in which they no longer exist, Sandy and his sister begin to question Todbaum’s motives for being there.
I always appreciate a writer who has the capacity to imagine a world unlike our own. I did find the backstory of Todbaum and Sandy interesting, as well as their strange reunification, but I felt myself distracted by what seemed to me like too much description of this semi-dystopian future.
If there was going to be so much space and time dedicated to describing the world, I wanted for a more boldly painted dystopia. There’s some interesting themes clearly being explored here through Todbaum, his contraption and people’s reactions to him, but I kept feeling lost in lengthy descriptions of the land, the new lifestyle in this area of Maine and some of the supporting characters.
Overall, I was unable to push through and finish this, and I stopped past the midpoint. At some point, I may go back and finish it, and I will definitely continue to read Lethem’s work. This one, perhaps, just wasn’t for me.
Thank you Netgalley and HarperCollins for the ARC!
I don’t care if it’s fall, I’ll still read a summer thriller, any day, any time. I tore through this one quickly because it was unputdownable. I’ll continue to read anything the wonderful Michele Campbell writes.
This story begins with a strong hook: the diary entry of a wealthy woman whose husband -- she is certain -- is planning to kill her. The woman is Nina Levitt, a woman revered amongst the social set, and her husband from a second marriage is the much-younger Connor.
Tabitha, a small-town waitress, runs into Connor after his wife’s death, and she is instantly pulled back into the brief but unforgettable romance she had in the past with him. Back then, he was the preppy member of a country club where she served people poolside. And now, he seems just as wealthy and out of her reach, yet she finds herself drawn to him.
As Tabitha finds herself thrust into a decadent world of wealth and privilege she’d never imagined possible, she begins to wonder what actually happened to Nina Levitt and how far Connor may have gone to inherit her wealth.
This was a fun read with lots of twists and turns. What I loved most about it was being on the ride with Tabitha when she goes from rags to riches so quickly that she is like a fish out of water, or perhaps a fish who is suddenly swimming with very wealthy sharks. It was a fun and slightly terrifying look at ‘how the other half lives.’
It is so hard to get a read on who Connor is, in only the best way. Is he a good-hearted guy who got caught up in the idea of wealth? Is he a manipulative man who is conning whoever he needs to in order to get ahead? Is he a guy who lost his way but is now trying to do right?
I really had no idea what to expect at the end, which is the mark of a great thriller. I highly recommend this if you want an edge-of-your-seat summer (or fall!) read.
Thank you to St. Martin's Press and Netgalley for the ARC!!