Lila Ridgefield seems like the perfect wife from the outside, but she and her husband Aaron both have troubled pasts. When he goes missing, she’s very confused. She was the last person to see his body, and now he’s not where she put it.
Her small town in upstate NY is thrown into the spotlight when - on top of Aaron’s disappearance - a true crime podcast focuses on a teenage girl who also went missing in the area. Soon it’s discovered that more girls are missing, and it’s beginning to look like all of these missing persons cases may be linked. Lila is now the object of national media attention, and she has to figure out what has actually happened to her husband before she is found out -- or worse.
This domestic suspense thriller alternates between past and present, and flips between the POV of Lila and Ginny, the detective who is determined to uncover the truth. It has some Gone Girl vibes, which I love. The character of Lila is strong and sexy and complex and flawed, and I am here for it!
The premise is fantastic and unique, so the book starts off with a bang. The middle did drag a bit for me, but the pace picked up again during the climax. I did predict the ending, but I’m not necessarily bothered by that, especially since it closed with such a satisfying theme of female empowerment. Plus, there was an extra twist that I didn’t see coming that was very dark and disturbing.
(This may be a good place to add a trigger warning for those who’ve experienced abuse or sexual assault).
This is a popcorn psychological thriller. Like many commercial thrillers, the emphasis is on plotting and shocking twists more than character, making it one of those easy and fun reads you can devour in one sitting while you escape the world for awhile.
I’d definitely read the next book by Darby Kane! And I’m so grateful for the inspired and creative people like her who can craft stories that allow us to escape things like, oh say, global pandemics and contested elections.
I was interested in this book because the author has had an amazing career law enforcement: “Isabella was a graduate of the FBI National Academy in Quantico and the first Latina in her department to attain the rank of captain, she served as a patrol officer, hostage negotiator, spokesperson, recruit instructor, patrol supervisor, gang council coordinator, and district station commander.”
Makes me think this is definitely a woman with some stories to tell, right?
Nina Guerrera is an FBI agent who managed to get away from a serial killer at the age of sixteen. The man was never caught and has remained obsessed with her over the years. When she gains attention from a viral video, the man who abducted her is determined to play a game of cat and mouse with her, killing other women and leaving a trail of clues in his path, while the world watches. Nina and a team of experts at the FBI must discover who this man is and find him before he finds her and carries out his threat.
What I appreciated most about this book is that there’s definitely a lot of insider detail, told in a tone that is hard and real, giving it the feel of a police procedural a la Criminal Minds or NCIS. I found the elements of the case incredibly believable and interesting.
I was left wanting more of an emotional connection with Nina and the other characters.
This was released Nov. 1 by Thomas & Mercer, @amazonpublishing
Thank you #netgalley for the ARC of #thecipher
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!!
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.