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!!
First off, I’d give a strong trigger warning for anyone who is a survivor of sexual assault or rape and may still be experiencing trauma from it. Goldin tackles this topic with an unflinching look at how our legal system and society handles survivors who come forward with accusations. But she does handle the issue with an incredible amount of sensitivity for the millions of men and women who are survivors.
This story follows the courtroom drama around a present-day sexual assault case in which a teenage girl accuses a small town’s star athlete of allegedly raping her. Rachel Krall, the main character, focuses on this case for the third season of her successful true crime podcast, and she uses it to explore the wildly different reactions that people have when an individual is accused of a sex crime and the difficulty of proving such a crime in a court of law. While Rachel covers this case for her podcast, she is led to investigate what happened to Jenny, another teenage girl in the town who was found dead twenty-five years ago.
From the book jacket: “The past and present start to collide as Rachel uncovers startling connections between the two cases that will change the course of the trial and the lives of everyone involved.”
This book is part courtroom drama and part mystery/thriller. Goldin did her research around sexual assault cases, including how rape kits work and what tactics the prosecution and defense use in the courtroom. I would say that her approach to the story is more cerebral, rather than emotional. There is a journalist’s curiosity within the writing (Goldin worked as a foreign correspondent for the ABC and Reuters), which makes for an interesting look into the legal machinations around a sex crime. But as a reader, I wanted to feel more emotionally connected to the characters. Even the main character, Rachel, served mainly as an investigative journalist rather than a fully formed character with flaws, needs and a compelling personal journey. Still, the unfolding of each of the parallel stories is smartly crafted and paced beautifully. And both stories lead to a gripping -- and what could be termed ‘crowd-pleasing’ -- end.
Beyond a love of research, Goldin shows real range as an author: I appreciate the difference in subject matter and tone between Goldin’s last book, The Escape Room, which centered around Wall Street greed, and The Night Swim, which revolved around around sexual assault in rural America.
I’d describe this as more of a crime thriller rather than a psychological thriller, and I’d highly recommend it for anyone who likes courtroom dramas or mysteries!
Thank you #netgalley and @stmartinspress for the ARC of #thenightswim!
Is this thing still on? Hey friends. It's been a minute because, life.
I finished this a couple of weeks ago, but DO NOT interpret the amount of time it took me to finally jot down my thoughts on it as a lack of enthusiasm for this book by Amy Engel.
Because the truth is I loved it so very much.There are parts of this book that were so vivid that they will stick with me for a very long time to come.
After reading a fair number of thrillers lately that feature wealthy millennials living the high life while sipping craft cocktails in NYC (not really my thing), it was refreshing to read a gritty, real story about a tough-as-nails woman trying to scrape by in poor, small town America (my thing).
Eve grew up with a drug-addicted mother who was unstable and frequently cruel. The only thing that saves her from emulating her mother is the birth of her daughter after an accidental pregnancy at a young age. But twelve years later, while Eve is just trying to eke out a meager existence by working at a local diner, her daughter is murdered. Eve vows to find out who took her girl’s life and get justice, no matter what it takes. Even if it means tapping into those dangerous parts of herself that she tucked away when her daughter was born.
The setting of this book is harsh and dark and desolate. The same could be said for many of the characters. The main character, Eve, is so flawed yet strong and likable. I especially love the relationship between Eve and her meth-addicted mother. This is an unflinching look at what life is like for people who are born without means and become trapped in the small town where they grew up, saddled with a lack of opportunity and no promise of a better life.
This book reads a bit like a Coen brothers movie to me. There’s brilliance in it, and some good truths, but it’s dark and bleak and hard and definitely NOT for the faint of heart.
So, of course, I flippin’ LOVED it!!
I recommend this for thriller or mystery lovers who like grit, vigilante justice, tough themes and rough women.
Set in the poorest part of the Missouri Ozarks, in a small town with big secrets, The Familiar Dark opens with a murder. Eve Taggert, desperate with grief over losing her daughter, takes it upon herself to find out the truth about what happened.
Thank you #netgalley and @penguinrandomhouse for the ARC of #thefamiliardark
The premise of this, although rather campy and Lifetime Movie of the Week-ish, makes for a very entertaining psychological thriller. But the tension was unfortunately loosened for me throughout by what was revealed when. The most prominent example of this was when the main mystery underlying everything was fully revealed at the midpoint.
This may work well for some readers, but as someone who LOVES psychological thrillers, I felt let down by it. I want to be curious - until the very end - about what truth is lying underneath.
This book was certainly plot — and not character — driven. If I’m honest, I was a bit surprised by chunks of prose that seemed like early draft exposition that perhaps should have either been cut or weaved into the action. Due to this, my read of the book turned to skimming at a certain point.
This is the first book I’ve read by Daniel (D.J.) Palmer, and I’m guessing he must be great with story and he’s certainly prolific, because he’s built a solid career on churning out books. I’m thinking I might give one of his earlier books, Saving Meghan, a try at some point, since I’ve seen people rave about it!
Look, I’m probably the weirdo here who doesn’t watch reality TV and snobbishly seeks out depth and ‘human truths’ in the stories I read, even if they’re page-turning thrillers. I’m painfully aware that if I thought less and just experienced shocks and thrills more, I’d most likely be a happier person.
If you are looking for depth and truths here, you may be disappointed. But this type of supremely commercial fiction really thrills certain readers and sells millions of copies - I get that, and I do not judge at all. In fact, I am kind of jealous. If you are one of those lucky people, definitely get this book and give it a read!
A huge thank you to #netgalley and St. Martin’s Press for the ARC of #thenewhusband in exchange for my honest review!
I don’t have words for how much I love this book!! Don’t read my review. Honestly, just buy the book and start reading it.
You’re still here? Fine. Alright. If you’re going to be stubborn...
The book had me in its grips once I hit the support group scene towards the beginning of the book. Yowzers, what a scene. It conveys so much truth about what parents with missing children must go through, while also having sharply drawn and distinctive characters and a wonderful sense of humor. This is writing that is so skilled that it almost makes me want to give up and never write another word again.
Anyway, the type of insightful truth-telling about human emotions and behavior that exists in that scene continues throughout the book. There is so much that I could rave about when it comes to this story — from the solid plotting, to the great descriptions, to the brilliant twists — but the thing that really stands out to me are the characters. When it comes to thrillers, this stands out as one that actually has real depth. The emotions of the characters seem so real, and they are written with such empathy and understanding.
But man, oh, man —- this is just a fun, shocking, can-not-put-it-down read. Don’t let the mention of emotional depth make you think this isn’t a heart-pounding page-turned, because it most certainly is. Hats off to @jenniferhillier
I don’t normally say this, but this needs to be made into a movie!! It’s practically screaming ‘film script!’
Thank you to #NetGalley @stmartinspress and @minotaurbooks for the ARC!
Marin had the perfect life. Married to her college sweetheart, she owns a chain of upscale hair salons, and Derek runs his own company. They're admired in their community and are a loving family―until their world falls apart the day their son Sebastian is taken.
A year later, Marin is a shadow of herself. The FBI search has gone cold. The publicity has faded. She and her husband rarely speak. She hires a P.I. to pick up where the police left off, but instead of finding Sebastian, she learns that Derek is having an affair with a younger woman. This discovery sparks Marin back to life. She's lost her son; she's not about to lose her husband, too. Kenzie is an enemy with a face, which means this is a problem Marin can fix.
I loved this read! Just like any great mystery or thriller I’ve read, it started off with a bang, and it ended with a couple of strong and shocking twists that I didn’t see in coming.
The character of Gemma was created so well that you think that she may be crazy or guilty, but you hope so badly that she’s not. This is exactly the way I want to feel about unreliable narrators! This is why I love them so much!
This switches POV a bit, but it’s done in such a skillful and deft way that it serves the story and doesn’t feel forced, cheap or contrived, the way a fair number of thrillers with multiple POVs do these days. (I know some people love multiple POVs, and I do, too, if it’s done well. If it’s not done well, I kind of hate it).
This felt like such an easy read to me, and by saying that, I don’t at all mean that it is in any way simplistic or lacks depth. I’ve just read some thrillers lately that really could have used more editing. While reading this, I didn’t see any gimmicks. Nothing seemed contrived. My mind didn’t start musing about how I might fix things here or there.
No, this is just some good, old-fashioned clean writing by @jackiekabler. Clear, well-defined characters. Motivations that made sense. Thought out psychological underpinnings. Excellent pacing. Solid dialogue and descriptions. And even though the circumstances were pretty ‘out there,’ it all still seemed so believable. (But hey, in the middle of a global pandemic, does anything seem too ‘out there?’)
If you like mysteries or thrillers or shocking endings or things that take your mind — every so slightly — off of a terrible global pandemic, I highly recommend this fun book!
Thank you #NetGalley for the ARC of #ThePerfectCouple!
A year and a half ago, Gemma met the love of her life, Danny. Since then, their relationship has been like something out of a dream. But one Friday evening, Gemma returns home to find Danny is nowhere to be seen.
After two days with no word from her husband, Gemma turns to the police. She is horrified by what she discovers – a serial killer is on the loose in Bristol. When she sees the photos of the victims she is even more stunned … they all look just like Danny.
But the police aren’t convinced by Gemma’s story. Why has no one apart from Gemma seen or heard from Danny in weeks? Why is there barely a trace of him in their flat? Is she telling them the truth, or are there more secrets and lies in this marriage than meets the eye?
When I receive an ARC, I do my best to read the entire book, out of respect for the author. I made it to the halfway point on this one, then stopped.
My favorite thing: I love the setting of an amusement park in a smaller town, and it is well-crafted. It brought back memories of the park I used to go to as a kid (Knoebel’s Grove in Elysburg, PA). This is a fantastic setting for a YA mystery!
My least favorite thing: the characters don’t seem real enough, which - for me and many readers - is, like, THE MOST important thing, right? For example, if a character’s father is an immature, chauvinistic *insert expletive here,* then I want the main character to acknowledge it, at least in her own thoughts. Or the narrator. This is what allows the reader to believe the narrator and the story. If it doesn’t happen, we suddenly see the facade and realize that everything is contrived and made up.
Ugh, I hate being negative because I know how hard it is to write a book. There is so much potential here, there really is, but I think it needed stronger editing before it was published.
This is a page-turning fictional True Crime book mixed with paranormal. It’s billed as a thriller, but it’s more mystery. Almost the entire book is set at a run-down motel on the outskirts of small-town NY and the happenings there that span nearly forty years.
The setting jumps right off the page and creates a fantastically spooky ghost story. The turns that are supposed to be twists, I found, to be predictable, but I still enjoyed the read.
The author, Simone St. James, is clearly someone who loves true crime, due to her knowledge of it and her mentions of #murderinos and @myfavoritemurder.
I think anyone who has a fascination with true crime or the paranormal will absolutely love this book!!
Something hasn’t been right at the roadside Sun Down Motel for a very long time, and Carly Kirk is about to find out why in this chilling new novel from the New York Times bestselling and award-winning author of The Broken Girls.
Upstate New York, 1982. Viv Delaney wants to move to New York City, and to help pay for it she takes a job as the night clerk at the Sun Down Motel in Fell, New York. But something isnʼt right at the motel, something haunting and scary.
Upstate New York, 2017. Carly Kirk has never been able to let go of the story of her aunt Viv, who mysteriously disappeared from the Sun Down before she was born. She decides to move to Fell and visit the motel, where she quickly learns that nothing has changed since 1982. And she soon finds herself ensnared in the same mysteries that claimed her aunt.
This was a fun read that had me hooked from the beginning. Its well-defined characters have strong dynamics between them, including a flawed – yet very believable – main character. There was good dialogue and witty, young adult banter.
The strange hotel in which the story is set was well-crafted and at points came alive on the page. Thevariations and warping within it reminded me a bit of House of Leaves, which is one of my favorite horror novels.
The narrative, at times, would go back to prior conversations and events to provide backstory, and it wasn’t always clear when it was travelling back and when it was returning, which was a bit confusing.
The ending was sort of fun, but since you can see where the story is going from the beginning, I wish that it was an allegory with deeper meaning. Is it exploring society, individualism, culture, identity…anything?? Yeeaah, no. Nope. It’s just a horror novel with some camp and a fair amount of gruesome.
Now, there are lots of people who are into that type of thing. If horror and/or camp is your thing, you’ll LOVE this read.
Even though that is not my thing, I still devoured it in a day, got lost in it and enjoyed it.
Thank you @penguinrandomhouse and @berkleypub for the ARC!