A Necessary Death – Anne Holt

I managed to squeeze in another thriller before year end.  A Necessary Death is a Norwegian crime thriller set across the backdrop of Oslo and into Norway’s rugged mountain ranges.

More of a political thriller, the story follows Selma Falck, an investigator who takes up the challenge of looking into the mysterious death of her son in law, a death she does not believe was an accident.

Unfortunately for Selma, looking into something others would prefer she leaves alone could have deadly consequences.  When she wakes in the middle of a burning cabin a top a snow covered mountain in the middle of nowhere her nightmare begins.  Badly beaten and bruised, naked and left for dead, Selma barely makes it out of the cabin before it explodes.  How did she get there?  Clearly someone wants her dead, but who? Now she must work out how to survive and make her way out of the mountain without dying from exposure.

The book is set across a six month period and jumps between past and present as the storyline is built and we try to understand how Selma came to be in this cabin.  The political backdrop to this book plays heavily across the storyline.  Right wing vs left wing.  Fanatics and conspiracy theorists, back-room dealings with deadly consequences, all in the name of protecting the country. These parts of the book were a little heavy for me but I still found it enjoyable, I just had to concentrate a bit harder to follow who was who.

Selma herself is a very flawed character.  Brusque, damaged and with a no nonsense attitude to life I really found myself liking her.  She didn’t pretend to be anything other than how she portrayed herself, it gave her credibility as a character.

This was book 2 in the Selma Falck series but can absolutely be read as a standalone book.

Thank you so much to Allen and Unwin for the opportunity to read this one.  Definitely recommend to anyone that loves a really good political thriller.

Tell Me Lies – J.P. Pomare

This one was psychological suspense at its best,  You know the way the story is heading isn’t going to be where it ends.  You know the likely suspect you are being steered towards didn’t do it, but I loved the fact that even though I knew all that, I still didn’t know where it was heading.


Margot is a psychologist with a successful practice in Melbourne.  A loving husband, teenage children and a beautiful home.  She seemingly has it all.


So why would she suddenly push one of her patients into the path of a train on a busy platform in front of hundreds of witnesses?

  
The suspense in this one is palpable, You can almost reach out and touch it.  I’m going to be deliberately vague regarding the storyline and not going to divulge anymore , trust me, the less you know, the wilder the ride.


The pages keep turning, hours are lost and before you know it you have finished the book thinking wow, what just happened?  And that ending!!!!


A huge thank you to Hachette Australia for the opportunity to read this one.  A 5 star read for me, I loved it and will definitely be adding the authors previous books to my tbrlist.

The Girl Before – JP Delaney

This is my third JP Delaney read and I think it’s my favourite so far.  It’s a few years old now but I’m trying to read his entire backlist because seriously, this guy is insanely good, and this book was insanely good, with emphasis on the word insane – lol.

The master of psychological thrillers, JP Delaney has written one messed up crazy story here.  I think what freaked me out the most was just how easily something as frightening as this could happen.  He is a master at developing characters, you understand them so fully and feel so completely what they feel that it’s as if everything is happening right in front of you, you don’t have to imagine it, you are literally immersed in the story.

Enter the world of One Folgate Street.  An award winning home designed by the mysterious architect Edward Monkford.  After losing his wife and child, he believes in simplicity, in a minimalistic lifestyle.  Everything he owns can fit into one small bag.  This lifestyle carries over into the house he has built, and anyone who wishes to take on the lease and live is this beautifully sleek dwelling with its clean lines, and stone surroundings must be willing to follow the rules, no exceptions made.  For all its beauty though, the house has a deadly past and choosing to live there is not for the faint hearted.

The book alternates superbly between the two main characters, Emma, the girl before, and Jane, the girl now.  We move between the past as we witness the unravelling of Emma, and the present day as we follow Jane trying to piece together the house’s history.  What were the circumstances of Emma’s death, was it really an accident?  What secrets was this house holding?

Oh there is so much more I want to say, so many things about this story I want to talk about, but going into this one blind is was made it sooooo good.  The twists and turns kept me riveted.  I never knew which way the story would bend and what fresh secrets the house would spill.

This is an absolute must read for any psychological thriller fans out there, you won’t be disappointed.

*****

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue – V.E Schwab

What can I say about this book that hasn’t already been said?  What can I say about this book that would even begin to do it justice?  Nothing, okay, end of review.

Seriously, this is one of the most beautifully written books I have ever read.  I finished it a few days ago now and it actually feels like there is a great big empty space where Addie should be. 

Desperate to be free to live her own life, make her own choices and set her own path, it’s 1714 and Addie makes a deal that will change her life forever.  As is so often the case, this freedom comes at a price.  Whilst she may now be beholden to nobody, she is now also remembered by nobody.  Seen, and yet instantly forgotten.  No memories left, no footprints behind her, nothing.  She is nothing. 

Until she meets Henry.  The unassuming man who runs the local bookshop in New York City.  It’s 2014 and after nearly 300 years, Addie is finally remembered.  After 300 years meandering through the world, through wars, through celebrations, through unforgettable moments in history, he remembers her.  Why?  Who is he?  What does it mean?  Addie will push all these questions away to savour these feelings as long as she can.

Lyrical, magical, simply stunning.  There is honestly nothing I can say that will do this book justice.  If you haven’t read it yet, pick it up, find somewhere comfy and dive right in.  This book will stay with you forever.

5 bright beautiful stars for this one.

*****

The Christmas Killer – Alex Pine

We usually think of warm toasty reads when we think Christmas.  Love stories and happy endings.  Well not this Christmas read…..12 days of Christmas and 12 dead bodies, bring it on.

Firstly I have to admit I’m a total sucker for British crime dramas.  My Foxtel IQ is full of police and detective series and that is why I loved this one.  This felt exactly like I was watching one of my favourites, complete with that memorable line that every crime show seems to have….. “Where to now guv?”

It’s the lead up to Christmas and a killer is on the loose in the small village of Kirkby Abbey.  Not only is he is on the loose, but he’s taunting the police, and a few of the locals, by sending them creepy Christmas cards, and trust me, these aren’t Christmas cards you want to receive.

Twelve Days of Christmas and twelve murders, our killer has a hit list and it would seem, a score to settle.  Who would have a vendetta against any of the residents of this sleepy little hamlet?  Certainly not the warm welcome our new resident detective was expecting having left London to escape the evils of his past case and live a somewhat quieter life.

Very much procedural driven we follow Detective James Walker step by step through his investigation while he follows up leads and conducts his interviews.  Even with the heavy detail, the story still skips along pretty rapidly.

Although for some reason I found the Detective’s wife Annie beyond irritating (is it wrong I was hoping she was on the killer’s hit-list?) I still found this a quick and enjoyable read, almost like reading an episode of Midsomer Murders.

Thanks to Netgalley and Avon Books UK for the opportunity to read this one, and the excuse to grab a few of my Christmas decorations out of storage.

****

The Year of the Witching – Alexis Henderson

I cannot believe this is a debut novel.  Alexis Henderson has built an atmospheric tale that is impossible not to lose yourself in.

With the perfect amount of eeriness, creepy vibes, and a chilling haunting feel to it I was completely mesmerised by the entire story.

Set in the town of Bethel that borders the Darkwood where it is rumoured the spirits of four evil witches lie in wait for their latest prey, where entering the woods marks certain death or madness, where the town folk follow only the words of their Prophet and any who would dare speak against him or the Church must surely lean towards witchcraft and therefore must burn on the pyre. 

Argh, how good does that sound!!  I’m in!!!

In a world where a girl’s sole purpose is to bleed and therefore be ready for the cutting ritual.  Where the prophet can take as many wives as he likes to serve his needs, and women have no purpose other than to obey, Immanuelle stands apart.

Raised by her grandparents after her mother was killed for consorting with witches and her father burned on the pyre as a traitor to the Church, she constantly feels the pull to the Darkwood.  When one day this pull becomes to strong Immanuelle’s future will be changed forever.  After a dark and chilling encounter with the witches, as terrifying plagues start to befall the township of Bethel, is Immanuelle to blame?  Can she stop them or should she watch them all suffer for all they have put her family through?

This is so descriptive and beautifully detailed.  I was absolutely captivated and although not a huge fan of horror, and trust me, it’s interwoven into this one, I honestly could not put it down.

I was soooo excited to read that the author is currently locked away writing the sequel.  I can’t wait.

5 fabulous witchy stars for this one.

The Girl From Widow Hills – Megan Miranda

Oh I so wanted to love this book, I tried and tried but in the end it just wasn’t for me.  The synopsis sounded so good, perfect for thriller season but something was missing.

Even a dead body in the front yard didn’t peak my interest.

It was really well written, and I think that’s what kept me going to at least finish the book.  I wanted to see where the storyline went but for me the main issue was that nothing really happened, it didn’t really go anywhere.  An accident that occurred 20 years ago, that yes, while traumatic for our leading character Arden or Olivia, didn’t really seem to have any connection or link to her life now.  It just didn’t make sense to me.

The focus of Olivia’s current life and the supposed spooky stuff that was happening to her seemed to get lost amongst the strangeness of her past, which she didn’t really remember anyway so again, made it all fall a little flat.

Random characters that came and went also had me scratching my head a little.

I knew when I reached the last few chapters and honestly didn’t care “whodunit” in the end that this wasn’t going to be one that stuck around in my memory.  And the ending, argh, the less said the better.

Again, well written, and great sounding synopsis, but it just didn’t make sense to me. 

The Night Swim – Megan Goldin

This was a highly anticipated read for me and it didn’t disappoint.  I love a courtroom drama so this definitely ticked the boxes.

Renowned for her true crime podcasts Rachel decides to do something a little different for her latest one.  Follow a trial live as its happening.  A local college student is accused of raping a high school student after a party one night in a small town where everyone seems to know everyone.  The boy is a local legend, an acclaimed swimmer headed for the Olympics, while the girl is a popular teen, who just happens to be the granddaughter of the police chief.  It has all the hallmarks of a great he said she said story.

Thrown into the mix is a side story that at first I found a little confusing.  Ex local girl Hannah mysteriously starts stalking Rachel while she is trying to cover the trial.  Desperate to draw her attention to the death of her sister over twenty years earlier when she drowned at the local beach.  Hannah is convinced her sister’s death was foul play and will stop at nothing to have her story heard.

The more Hannah’s story unfolded the more hooked I became, almost to the point where it overshadowed the trial storyline itself.

Although I don’t normally list trigger warnings, there are definitely a few parts of the book where I felt upset and appalled and anyone who has had to deal with any form of assault may find difficult to read.  The author has built into the storyline with a lot of detail, but it’s not out of place and sensationalised for shock value which I think is important to note. I think she’s actually done an incredible job.

An absolute page turner that had the perfect amount of suspense and build up throughout.  This was so close to being a 5 star read for me but I couldn’t quite get over the line with the ending.  I don’t want to spoil anything, and please don’t get me wrong, it’s not that the ending let the book down, there was just a certain outcome that I found frustrating regarding a certain character….hmmm…can I be any more vague. 

For those that have read it, do you know who/what I mean?  Would love to know your thoughts. 

The Night Swim definitely deserves all the rave reviews it’s been receiving.

Review – Playing Nice

Playing Nice – JP Delaney

Another twisting and turning tale from the masterful JP Delaney.  This one had me flying through the pages.  What was going on?  How were the babies switched?  Are the birth parents up to something?  Are the other parents up to something?  Stop!!! My brain is hurting!!!

I’m fast becoming a huge fan of this author and Playing Nice confirmed why.  Pete and Maddie are parents to 2 year old Theo who was born prematurely and spent a number of weeks in the NICU unit in one of London’s busy hospitals.  Maddie has since returned to work in advertising and Pete, a freelance journalist, is relishing playing the role of stay at home dad to his young son. 

Life is meandering along pretty nicely for them both bar the slightly too often behavioural issues that Theo displays when at day-care.  That is until one morning there is a knock on the door and a complete stranger drops what can only be described as every parent’s worst nightmare onto Pete.  Sorry, but I believe you have my child.  Yep, apparently there was a bit of a mix up at the hospital and we each have the wrong kid.  .  What the?

Enter Miles and Lucy, the parents of little David, who as it turns out is actually Pete and Maddie’s son.  Wow, confused yet?  Don’t be.  The storyline alternates brilliantly between Pete and Maddie and their take on the situation and all that unfolds…..and boy, is there a lot of unfolding. 

Both families try to work through not only how this could have happened, but what it means for the future of their children, while trying to find the most amicable solution possible. 

Agreeing that both boys should stay with the parents they have spent the first two years of their life with, while still being a part of the other family’s life, it really seems like all could work out.  Wrong!! Instead life for Pete and Maddie soon turns into a terrifying world of betrayal and fear.

I found myself screaming at this book so many times, almost like you do in a horror movie when you know something really bad is about to happen!!  The suspense was first rate.  A carefully constructed domestic/psychological suspense thriller is how I would sum this one up and a really really good one at that. 

And of course I always love to see my hometown of Adelaide referenced in a novel.

Another review where I’m not going to say too much about the plot, the less you know the better the ride. 

A huge thank you to Hachette Australia for the opportunity to read this awesome book.  This one is out now and you really need to grab yourself a copy.

*****

Review – Mexican Gothic

Mexican Gothic – Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Wow, what a read.  Not what I was expecting at all, another book that I went into blind with no preconceived ideas, I just knew I desperately wanted to read it and what a read it was.

Atmospheric, historical, lyrical, dark, intense.  They are just a few words that grab me when I try and work out how to describe Mexican Gothic.  Very much a slow burn yet perfectly paced.

Noemi, the beautiful and vibrant socialite of a wealthy Mexican family in the 1950’s is asked by her father to visit her cousin Catalina after they receive a troubling letter from her.  The letter is disturbing, filled with the ramblings of what could only be described as a mad woman. 

Catalina has been living in High Place since recently marrying her husband Virgil.  A hauntingly eerie mansion in the mountains of El Triunfo Mexico. Although irritated at having to make the trek, Noemi who is extremely fond of her cousin, agrees to visit and find out for herself what is ailing Catalina. 

As soon as she arrives at High Place Noemi instantly feels ill at ease in the house.  Used to a life full of glamour and fun she struggles to adjust to the dark and dreary mansion.  No warmth, no light and a house filled with a hauntingly eerie silence. 

Barely able to spend more than five minutes alone with Catalina away from the prying eyes and ears of Virgil’s family, Noemi soon starts to worry about what is hidden within the walls.  Catalina almost seems a prisoner of the house.  What should she make of her illness?  What are the family hiding?

I could rave on and on about this book and the hauntingly gothic tale that is woven but I can’t for fear of giving anything away.  It is vivid and descriptive and as this tale unfolds it becomes more and more frightening until you realise you have been holding your breath.  Scenes that make your stomach turn yet that feeling that you can’t look away. 

The one thing I will say, I will certainly never feel the same way about mushrooms ever again.

*****