Archive for the ‘thriller’ Category

Review: The Girl on the Train – Paula Hawkins

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
Publication date: 15 January 2015
Publisher: Doubleday
Format: Hardback
ISBN: 9780857522313
Length: 384 pages
Genre: Thriller
Age group: Adult
Source: Publisher
Add it: Goodreads
Buy it: Amazon UK | The Book Depository
My rating: 5 Stars

You don’t know her. But she knows you.

Rachel catches the same commuter train every morning. She knows it will wait at the same signal each time, overlooking a row of back gardens. She’s even started to feel like she knows the people who live in one of the houses. ‘Jess and Jason’, she calls them. Their life – as she sees it – is perfect. If only Rachel could be that happy.

And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough.

Now everything’s changed. Now Rachel has a chance to become a part of the lives she’s only watched from afar. Now they’ll see; she’s much more than just the girl on the train…

With its intriguing premise and Transworld’s reputation for publishing some of the best thrillers I’ve ever read, The Girl on the Train was one of my most anticipated novels of 2015 – and it completely blew me away. Hawkins’s debut took the blogosphere by storm and it has every right to be at the top of the charts. It’s so brilliantly written, so unpredictable and so full of twists and turns that I read the second half in one sitting and would willingly give it 6 stars if I could.

One of the (many) reasons why it stood out for me is its narration. Rachel, our main character and narrator, is alcoholic. She’s had drinking problems for quite a while and she even lost her job because of it. And why it’s interesting, as far as the story is concerned, is because she’s unreliable. She often drinks herself to a state where she completely blacks out and has no memory of what she’s done when she wakes up the next morning. Add this to a story where she is the only witness and you’ll have no idea what to believe.

All the characters are brilliantly – and very cleverly – written, in a way that makes it impossible for you to know who to trust or who to believe. Not just Rachel, but everyone has their own version of events and they are all acting suspiciously in one way or another. I love books with unreliable narrators and The Girl on the Train was no exception.

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Review: An Evil Mind – Chris Carter

An Evil Mind by Chris Carter

An Evil Mind by Chris Carter
Publication date: 31 July 2014
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Format: Hardback
ISBN: 9781471132193
Length: 496 pages
Genre: Mystery/Thriller
Age group: Adult
Source: Publisher
Add it: Goodreads
Buy it: Amazon UK | The Book Depository
My rating: 4.5 Stars

A freak accident in rural Wyoming leads the Sheriff’s Department to arrest a man for a possible double homicide, but further investigations suggest a much more horrifying discovery – a serial killer who has been kidnapping, torturing and mutilating victims all over the United States for at least twenty-five years. The suspect claims he is a pawn in a huge labyrinth of lies and deception – can he be believed?

The case is immediately handed over to the FBI, but this time they’re forced to ask for outside help. Ex-criminal behaviour psychologist and lead Detective with the Ultra Violent Crime Unit of the LAPD, Robert Hunter, is asked to run a series of interviews with the apprehended man. These interviews begin to reveal terrifying secrets that no one could’ve foreseen, including the real identity of a killer so elusive that no one, not even the FBI, had any idea he existed … until now.

Having read most of his books in literally one sitting, I think it’s safe to say that whatever Chris Carter writes I fall in love with within seconds. An Evil Mind wasn’t any different. Although it’s very different from anything he’s written before, it’s just as tense and captivating as his other novels – but in a completely different way.

In case you’re not familiar with his writing, his previous books were famous for being of the nail-shredder, race-against-time variety and being on the gorier side. I enjoyed every second of every story but they were not for the faint-hearted. All his books featured various serial killers on the loose and Detective Robert Hunter trying to chase them down. So how is this book different, then? In An Evil Mind, the killer is already in FBI custody. We already know who he is and the fact that he’s guilty. What we don’t know is how many people he killed, who they are, and why he did it. All we know is that he knows Robert and refuses to talk to anyone else. So, once again, it’s up to Hunter to put the pieces together and figure out if Lucien is telling the truth and whether he has any other tricks up his sleeve.

Other than the fact that Carter’s writing is brilliant, I had absolutely no idea what to expect from this book. I don’t think I’ve ever read a book where you know who the killer is right from the start (solving the mystery alongside the detective is part of the fun, right?) so I was intrigued by the premise of Carter’s novel. It was definitely a pleasant surprise.

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Review: Victims – Jonathan Kellerman

Victims by Jonathan Kellerman

Victims by Jonathan Kellerman
Publication date: 11 October 2012
Publisher: Headline
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 9780755374526
Length: 374 pages
Genre: Thriller
Age group: Adult
Source: Publisher
Add it: Goodreads
Buy it: Amazon UK | The Book Depository
My rating: 5 Stars

Not since Jack the Ripper has there been such a gruesome crime scene. One look at the victim’s apartment turned charnel house is enough for Milo Sturgis to summon The Crime Reader. But even Alex Delaware’s skills may be stymied when more slayings occur in the same ghastly fashion…with no apparent connection between them. The only clue left behind – a blank page bearing a question mark – seems to be both a menacing taunt and a cry for help from a killer baffled by his own lethal urges. This one will haunt The Crime Reader’s waking life, and his darkest dreams, long after its end.

Jonathan Kellerman is one of those authors whose work I keep seeing every time I go into a bookshop and whose books I’ve wanted to pick up for a very long time. Being an avid reader of crime fiction – and fast paced thrillers in particular – I felt they would be something I’d enjoy but somehow I never got around to actually picking them up. When Victims landed on my doorstep a couple of weeks ago, I couldn’t wait to get started.

There are currently 29 books in the series featuring The Crime Reader, that is, forensic psychologist Alex Delaware, out of which Victims is the 27th. As much as I was looking forward to reading the book, a small part of me was worried whether I’d miss anything by not being familiar with the previous 26 books. With long series like this, authors often cut to the chase and don’t go into details about their characters, their past, their personalities, leaving you to figure out the relationships between them and everything else yourself. Which is understandable. If you’ve read 26 books with the same couple of characters, you probably know all about them. But, being a newbie to Alex’s world, I was a tiny bit worried.

Well, I shouldn’t have been. I didn’t for one second feel as if I was missing something. A few chapters in I felt as if I’ve known Alex and his friend and work partner, Milo Sturgis, for a long time. In fact, their dialogues and  their chemistry is one of the things I think makes this book as good as it is. But characters alone don’t make an excellent book – you need a killer plot and compelling writing as well. Kellerman’s Victims ticks all these boxes. His writing draws you in at the very beginning and you won’t be able to put the book down or stop guessing right until the very end.

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Review: A Dark and Twisted Tide – Sharon Bolton

A Dark and Twisted Tide by Sharon Bolton


A Dark and Twisted Tide by Sharon Bolton
Publication date: 8 May 2014
Publisher: Bantam Press
Format: Hardback
ISBN: 9780593069189
Length: 448 pages
Genre: Thriller
Age group: Adult
Source: Publisher
Add it: Goodreads
Buy it: Amazon UK | The Book Depository
My rating: 4.5 Stars

Former detective Lacey Flint quit the force for a safer, quieter life. Or that’s what she thought.

Now living alone on her houseboat, she is trying to get over the man she loves, undercover detective Mark Joesbury. But Mark is missing in action and impossible to forget. And danger won’t leave Lacey alone.

When she finds a body floating in the river near her home, wrapped in burial cloths, she can’t resist asking questions. Who is this woman, and why was she hidden in the fast-flowing depths? And who has been delivering unwanted gifts to Lacey?

Someone is watching Lacey Flint closely. Someone who knows exactly what makes her tick…

There are only a handful of crime writers whose new books instantly go to the very top of my wish list, and Sharon Bolton is one of them. After reading all three books in the Lacey Flint series, as well as an e-book short story, I’m convinced that no matter what she writes about or how she does it, I’m going to end up loving it. All of her books are so well-researched, so twisted and mind-boggling and so well-written that it’s impossible not to be captivated by them. A Dark and Twisted Tide is no exception.

Bolton’s ability to grab your attention within seconds and to keep up this suspense, this tension throughout the book is one of the reasons why I love her work as much as I do. As our killer and his/her soon-to-be victim make their appearance at the very beginning of the first chapter, the reader cannot help but wonder what is about to happen, why is s/he doing it. And of course Lacey can’t stay out of it either. A Dark and Twisted Tide pretty much continues from where the previous book ended, with Lacey leaving her team and joining the Marine Unit in the hope of a quieter, less stressful life. But someone has other plans. After discovering the first victim during her early morning swim in the Thames and a handful of (seemingly) practical jokes it becomes obvious that someone is keeping a close watch on her. And, once again, the killer will make sure that Lacey is very much part of his/her twisted game.

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Review: Don’t Stand So Close – Luana Lewis – Plus a Giveaway!

Don't Stand So Close by Luana Lewis

Title: Don’t Stand So Close
Author: Luana Lewis
Publication date: 13 February 2014
Publisher: Bantam Press (Transworld)
Format: Hardback
ISBN: 9780593072301
Length: 320 pages
Genre: Psychological thriller / Suspense
Age group: Adult
Source: Publisher
Add it: Goodreads
Buy it: Amazon UK | The Book Depository

In a nutshell

What would you do if a young girl knocked on your door and asked for your help? If it was snowing and she was freezing cold, but you were afraid and alone? What would you do if you let her in, but couldn’t make her leave?

What if she told you terrible lies about someone you love, but the truth was even worse?

Stella has been cocooned in her home for three years. Severely agoraphobic, she knows she is safe in the stark, isolated house she shares with her husband, Max. The traumatic memories of her final case as a psychologist are that much easier to keep at a distance, too.

But the night that Blue arrives on her doorstep with her frightened eyes and sad stories, Stella’s carefully controlled world begins to unravel around her…

My thoughts

I have a soft spot for psychological thrillers so I fell in love with Luana Lewis’s story the minute I read the synopsis. I had very high hopes for Don’t Stand So Close and luckily, it didn’t let me down. I loved it from start to finish and I’m not exaggerating when I say I read the first hundred pages in one sitting.

One of the reasons why it’s so difficult to put it down is that you have no idea who’s lying, who’s manipulating who and who the (real) victims are. Blue turns up at Stella’s house with an innocent enough story but once she’s inside, it turns out things are more complicated than they seem. Both of them are acting strange. Stella has been cocooned inside her home with symptoms of agoraphobia and anxiety, and been on heavy medication for years so she’s clearly not the most reliable character you’ll ever find. Blue says she knows Stella’s husband but she keeps changing her story all the time. You have no idea what’s going on and you want to find out who’s telling the truth so desperately that by the time you manage to put the book down for a few minutes, it’s midnight and you realize you forgot to have dinner. And lunch. It’s very addictive!

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Review: Mother, Mother – Koren Zailckas

Mother, Mother by Koren Zailckas

Title: Mother, Mother
Author: Koren Zailckas
Publication date: 16 January 2014
Publisher: HarperCollins
Format: Hardback
ISBN: 9780007547388
Length: 384 pages
Genre: Psychological thriller
Age group: Adult
Source: Publisher
Add it: Goodreads
Buy it: Amazon UK | The Book Depository

In a nutshell

All is not well with the Hurst family.

There is gentle teenage daughter Violet, whose experiments with fasting and drugs land her in a psychiatric ward; eight-year-old Will who is smart, funny and caring but has already been labelled autistic and is being home-schooled; and mother Josephine, whose subtly controlling and seemingly innocent manoeuvres may just be the source of everyone else’s despair.

And then there’s Rose, the sister who got away. Tired of Josephine’s interferences, Rose ran away from home years earlier and hasn’t been heard from since. But as her mother’s intentions become more terrifyingly clear, Violet begins to wonder whether something far, far worse happened to her older sister…

My thoughts

Mother, Mother is typically one of those books which left such a great impression on me that I have no idea where to even begin. I’ve always been a big fan of psychological thrillers and suspense – both in terms of films and books – so even though I went into this book not knowing what to expect, I was secretly hoping it would render me speechless. And render me speechless it did. I finished reading it in late December and, without exaggeration, it’s been on my mind ever since.

There’s something very disturbing about the story, something which makes it impossible for you to put it down. You get a sense that there’s something very, very wrong with Josephine. You don’t know what she’s capable of, why she’s acting the way she does and this sense of unease, uncertainty is one of the reasons why it’s such a compelling story and why it has such an impact. Zailckas manages to keep you in constant suspense and make you feel a deep sense of unease until the very end. You keep wondering how far it could go, how far Josephine (who really is the master of manipulation) could take things before the unthinkable happens and whether anyone realises how powerful she is before it’s too late.

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Review: The Bunker Diary – Kevin Brooks

The Bunker Diary by Kevin Brooks

Title: The Bunker Diary
Author: Kevin Brooks
Publication date: 7 March 2013
Publisher: Penguin
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 9780141326122
Length: 246 pages
Genre: Mystery / Thriller
Age group: Young Adult
Source: Won
Add it: Goodreads
Buy it: Amazon UK | The Book Depository

In a nutshell

I can’t believe I fell for it.

It was still dark when I woke up this morning. As soon as my eyes opened I knew where I was. A low-ceilinged rectangular building made entirely of whitewashed concrete. There are six little rooms along the main corridor. There are no windows. No doors. The lift is the only way in or out. What’s he going to do to me? What am I going to do?

If I’m right, the lift will come down in five minutes.

It did. Only this time it wasn’t empty…

My thoughts

Have you ever read a book that completely broke your heart but you still loved every second of it? That’s how I felt about The Bunker Diary. It’s sad, it’s cruel, it’s chilling, but it’s so beautiful at times.

The idea behind the story reminded me a little of the Saw movies. Random people thrown into an empty building and being surrounded by security cameras everywhere they go. They’re pieces in a sick mastermind’s even sicker game and we have no idea why or what they might have done to deserve this. The Bunker Diary is something very similar. A young guy – our main character and narrator – called Linus is kidnapped and wakes up in an underground bunker. And then day by day, six other people arrive. They don’t know each other, they have nothing in common, and they have no idea why they’re held captive. All they know is that their captor’s cameras follow their every step twenty-four hours a day and their conversations are being tapped. And that’s it.

How do you get out of such a place? How do you survive? How on earth did you end up there, anyway?

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