Archive for the ‘thriller’ Category

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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Review: Cruel Summer – James Dawson

Cruel Summer by James Dawson

Title: Cruel Summer
Author: James Dawson
Publication date: 1 August 2013
Publisher: Indigo
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 9781780621081
Length: 324 pages
Genre: Thriller
Age group: Young Adult
Source: Won
Add it: Goodreads
Buy it: Amazon UK | The Book Depository

In a nutshell

A group of friends enjoy a long, hot summer in a Mediterranean villa – until someone starts killing them one by one…

A year after the suicide of one of their friends, the rest of the group decide to spend the summer together in a holiday villa in the Mediterranean. They’re hoping to get over the terrible events of the previous year, but then a new guest arrives – claiming to have evidence that the suicide was actually murder. When she is found dead, it becomes clear that the killer must be one of them – but who is it? And will they strike again?

My thoughts

I’ve heard a million wonderful things about this book even before I picked it up so I was pretty sure I was in for a treat, but I would have never predicted how much of a nail-shredder it actually is and how much I fell in love with it by the end. If I had to sum it up in a nutshell, I would say Cruel Summer is like a modern, young adult version of Agatha Christie’s timeless classic (and one of my favourite books of all time), And Then There Were None . It’s just as twisted, just as gripping as Christie’s book and is a definite must-read for adults and younger readers alike.

When I started reading the book it seemed a little slow paced compared to what I was expecting but once you get through the first couple of chapters it all makes sense. Every little detail from the characters’ past is relevant to the plot and what they’re going through at the moment and – as much as I dreaded it – it never gets dull. Not for one moment. In fact, once you realize that all of these characters all had a lot to lose  and could have easily killed Janey you just won’t be able to put the book down. I raced through the second half of the story in no time and couldn’t get it out of my head ever since.

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Review: Bait – J. Kent Messum

Bait by J. Kent Messum

Title: Bait
Author: J. Kent Messum
Publication date: 27 August 2013
Publisher: Penguin
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 9780142180259
Length: 281 pages
Genre: Thriller
Age group: Adult
Source: Won
Add it: Goodreads
Buy it: Amazon UK | The Book Depository

In a nutshell

No one is coming to your aid. We have ensured this.

Six strangers wake up on a remote island in the Florida Keys with no memory of their arrival. They soon discover their common bond: all of them are heroin addicts. As the first excruciating pangs of withdrawal make themselves felt, the six notice a yacht anchored across open water. On it lurk four shadowy figures, protected by the hungry sharks that patrol the waves.

So begins a dangerous game. The six must undertake the impossible — swim to the next island where a cache of heroin awaits, or die trying. When alliances form, betrayal is inevitable. As the fight to survive intensifies, the stakes reach terrifying heights — and their captors’ motives finally begin to emerge.

My thoughts

I’ve been dying to read this book ever since it came out for so many different reasons. I love adrenaline-drenched thrillers. I’m strangely fascinated by the Agatha Christie-esque scenario of people being stranded on a deserted island (or any remote location there’s no way they would escape from) and having to survive. Add a deathly game and mysterious enemy and that’s my perfect night-time reading sorted right there. But despite the interesting premise, I just didn’t enjoy this book.

I suppose my main problem was the fact that I didn’t feel any sympathy for the characters. None of them. The story is basically a mixture of flashback episodes from the six strangers’ past and what they’re currently going through on the island. The flashbacks give readers a bit of insight into the (wasted) lives of these people, how desperate they all were for their next kick and how they were kidnapped before they ended up in the Florida Keys – which doesn’t really help you warm to them or feel any sympathy for them at all. And reading about a bunch of unlikeable people and their messed up past for a hundred pages is, let’s just say, not very entertaining.

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Review: A Tap on the Window – Linwood Barclay

A Tap on the Window by Linwood Barclay

Title: A Tap on the Window
Author: Linwood Barclay
Publication date: 10 October 2013
Publisher: Orion
Format: Hardback
ISBN: 9781409115052
Length: 512 pages
Genre: Mystery / Thriller
Age group: Adult
Source: Publisher
Add it: Goodreads
Buy it: Amazon UK | The Book Depository

In a nutshell

It’s been two months since private investigator Cal Weaver’s teenage son Scott died in a tragic accident. Ever since, he and his wife have drifted apart, fracturing a once normal life. Cal is mired in grief, a grief he can’t move past. And maybe his grief has clouded his judgement. Because driving home one night, he makes his first big mistake.

A girl drenched in rain taps on his car window and asks for a ride as he sits at a stop light. Even though he knows a forty-something man picking up a teenage hitch-hiker is a fool, he lets her in. She’s the same age as Scott, and maybe she can help Cal find the dealer who sold his son the drugs that killed him. After a brief stop at a roadside diner, Cal senses that something’s not right with the girl or the situation. But it’s too late. He’s already involved.

Now Cal is drawn into a nightmare of pain and suspicion. Something is horribly wrong in the small town of Griffon in upstate New York. There are too many secrets there, too many lies and cover-ups. And Cal has decided to expose those secrets one by one.

That’s his second big mistake.

My thoughts

I fell in love with Linwood Barclay’s writing about a year ago, so seeing A Tap on the Window among bookshops’ ‘soon to be released’ titles was almost like an early Christmas present. Although I’ve yet to read the majority of his previous books, I simply cannot recommend him enough.

Having read No Time for Goodbye earlier I already knew I was in for one hell of a ride but the author’s ability to grab you within the first few pages of the book still managed to take me by surprise. If you think you can read this before going to bed, one chapter a day, think again. Barclay’s books are as addictive as chocolate – once you start reading them it’s literally impossible to stop. I’ve always considered myself a slow reader but I probably read the first half in one sitting.

Initially I was a bit worried about the plot because, as it turns out, the girl who goes missing and who seems to be at the centre of things is the local mayor’s daughter and politics in crime fiction has never been my thing. At all. Luckily, I shouldn’t have worried – the book doesn’t really feature any power struggles or political scandals, after all. Phew.

One of the things I love about Barclay’s books and the way he builds up his stories the most is that they’re like puzzles. You end up reading four hundred pages desperately looking for clues and answers, not having the faintest idea what’s going on and getting more clueless by the second. And then a small piece of the puzzle clicks into place and you go…

Oh my God. No way. NO WAY.

Which is also the time when things start to get interesting. Secrets are revealed, guns are drawn and a mad race against the clock begins. Brilliant set-up and such a strong ending. I absolutely loved it.

Rating:
4.5 star review
*Many thanks to Orion Books for sending me a copy for review*

Review: One by One – Chris Carter

One by One by Chris Carter

Title: One by One
Author: Chris Carter
Publication date: 15 August 2013
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Format: Hardback
ISBN: 9780857203052
Length: 512 pages
Genre: Thriller
Age group: Adult
Source: Publisher
Add it: Goodreads
Buy it: Amazon | The Book Depository

In a nutshell

The most terrifying TV show ever is about to begin…

It’s an ordinary day on the job for Detective Robert Hunter of the LAPD Robbery Homicide Division, when out of the blue comes a phone call. A voice instructs him to log on to a certain URL. Intrigued, Hunter does so, only to find live footage of a hostage bound to a chair in a large tank. The caller then presents him with a grim choice: the hostage will either be drowned or burned alive, and Hunter must choose. Hunter votes for neither, but the caller insists: either Hunter decides or he will. Either way, the hostage will die. Hunter refuses to be drawn, so the caller suggests ‘burned alive’. Desperate, Robert Hunter requests ‘drowned’ as the less brutal option. And before his eyes the tank begins to fill…

So begins Detective Hunter’s most horrifying case yet. Along with his partner Garcia they are forced to watch as victim after victim is plucked, seemingly at random, and placed before a webcam, their final moments broadcast live on the internet, the viewing public offered the chance to vote on the method of death. You watch, you vote, they die.

My thoughts

This, my dear friends, is how you write an exceptional, cold-blooded thriller readers won’t be able to put down. I’ve only read one of Carter’s previous books so far but it instantly became one of my favourite books this year and put Chris Carter right on top of my ‘favourite crime writers’ list. But even though I knew One by One would be just as brilliant as The Night Stalker (and I’m sure most of his previous books) was, I wasn’t sure if he’d be able to top that level and write something even more intense, more twisted. Well, he did. One by One is no doubt one of the scariest books I’ve ever read and one I’m not likely to forget anytime soon.

I suppose one of the things that makes it so terrifying is that Hunter’s team is dealing with an incredibly smart killer this time. You know, Hannibal Lecter and Jigsaw smart. Someone who is always one step ahead of you and knows how you would react to his traps, someone who is (nearly) impossible to outwit and someone who isn’t likely to make mistakes. So how do you catch such a killer? How do you catch someone who’s been playing a cat and mouse game with you from the very beginning and who is always ready for your next move? Oh, it’s a clever idea.

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