Tag Archives: Domestic Noir

Our House by Louise Candlish #BookReview @louise_candlish @simonschusterUK #MustReads

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Today I’m thrilled to share my review for Our House by Louise Candlish, and what a fabulous book this one turned out to be, before I share my review here’s the book description to whet your appetite……

On a bright morning in the London suburbs, a family moves into the house they’ve just bought on Trinity Avenue. Nothing strange about that. Except it’s your house. And you didn’t sell it.

FOR BETTER, FOR WORSE.

When Fi Lawson arrives home to find strangers moving into her house, she is plunged into terror and confusion. She and her husband Bram have owned their home on Trinity Avenue for years and have no intention of selling. How can this other family possibly think the house is theirs? And why has Bram disappeared when she needs him most?

FOR RICHER, FOR POORER.

Bram has made a catastrophic mistake and now he is paying. Unable to see his wife, his children or his home, he has nothing left but to settle scores. As the nightmare takes grip, both Bram and Fi try to make sense of the events that led to a devastating crime. What has he hidden from her – and what has she hidden from him? And will either survive the chilling truth – that there are far worse things you can lose than your house?

TILL DEATH US DO PART.

IMG_3605This is the first book I have read by Louise Candlish and although it had a jaw dropping opening, I did have reservations as I found the constant change of narrative in the beginning some what confusing to say the least, but I’m so glad I persevered, what a compelling and twisted tale this turned out to be. We live in a world where our home is often a status symbol, we invest in it both financially and emotionally, we would do anything to protect our “nest egg” but Imagine coming home from work to find your house has been sold and your husband has disappeared? It would be your worse nightmare right? this is pretty much the premise of Our House. You may have misgivings about reading a novel based on a property, but believe me when I say “this book takes domestic noir to a new and exciting level”  

Told from the POV of Fi and Bram their narrative makes for an compelling read, as it explains the six months leading up to the house being sold, it’s a marriage shrouded in lies and deception, and turmoil. The old adage “Oh what a tangled web we weave when at first we start to deceive.” sums this book up perfectly. Once I got used to the narrative I thought the author made a fantastic job in conveying her characters story, Fi’s story is told via a podcast called The Victim, and Bram’s side is told through word documents, as the reader you are privy to both sides of the story, which is more than can be said for poor Fi who is totally in the dark regarding events that led to her husband’s disappearance and her home being sold.

As the plot unfolds Fi and Bram’s story becomes darker and more uncomfortable to read, as a spectator on the side lines you see the characters mental health unravel before your very eyes. You sense Fi’s fear and confusion, Bram’s panic as the lies mount up. Both characters had traits that I found very unlikable, and I certainly wanted to give Bram a good shake every time he made a wrong decision. Fi and Bram make for unreliable narrators and believe me when I say they “bring a whole new meaning to the word dysfunctional” but never the less they are brilliantly depicted and fit the story perfectly.  

When I began reading Our House I did have a couple of moments where I thought “hmmm really?” It did seem a bit far fetched, but the more I read I thought it actually made for a very credible tale, which made this book all the more  disturbing. As each chapter ends the sense of foreboding intensifies, you know something terrible is looming for the couple, but as to the who? why? what? The author manages to keep the reader in suspense to the last few pages. Louise Candlish manages to trick the reader at every deviously plotted turn. Despite guessing a couple of the twists there was one that gave me a “jaw dropping, did I really just read that?” moment which was superbly executed. I’m sure Our House will be one of the most talked about books of the year, and I can see why, it’s highly original, topical, and one that will cause debate,  would I recommend it? Most definitely. 

Print Length: 449 pages

Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK (5 April 2018)

Buying links:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B072M5S9XH/ref=dp-kindle-redirect?_encoding=UTF8&btkr=1

https://www.amazon.com/Our-House-Louise-Candlish/dp/045148911X

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The Old You by Louise Voss #BookReview #MustReads @LouiseVoss1 @OrendaBooks

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Today I’m thrilled to be sharing my review for The Old You by Louise Voss, part psychological and part domestic noir, this book was so different to anything I’ve read lately. Read on for my thoughts, but first the book description 

Nail-bitingly modern domestic noir

A tense, Hitchcockian psychological thriller

Louise Voss returns with her darkest, most chilling, novel yet…

Lynn Naismith gave up the job she loved when she married Ed, the love of her life, but it was worth it for the happy years they enjoyed together. Now, ten years on, Ed has been diagnosed with early-onset dementia, and things start to happen; things more sinister than missing keys and lost words. As some memories are forgotten, others, long buried, begin to surface … and Lynn’s perfect world begins to crumble.

But is it Ed’s mind playing tricks, or hers…?

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Most of the books I read are psychological thrillers, and just lately I have been struggling to find one that stands out in this genre and then along came a rare jewel The Old You by Louise Voss, what a fabulous, twisted read this turned out to be. At first I thought The Old You was going to be a heartbreaking portrayal of a couple living in the shadows of dementia, but as the old saying goes “never judge a book by its cover”, yes this terrible and heartbreaking disease does have a part to play, but there are so many elements that make this such an extraordinary and exciting book to read. 

The driving force behind The Old You lies in the secrets and tension between Lyn and Ed, a couple whose marriage is in crisis, on the surface conflict seems to arise from Ed’s early-onset dementia, and the problems that it brings, but like any good psychological thriller the author slowly reveals a tangled and very deceitful web. I found my emotions constantly shifting,  to begin with I was sympathetic to the couples plight, this was followed by empathy, and ending in outrage. Due to Ed’s conditions you can’t but help question his part in the story, an ingenious ploy on the author’s part. I worked with people with dementia for many years, so feel I’m able to say the author’s portrayal of someone with dementia was very authentic, she captured their emotions, behaviour and thoughts perfectly. 

A niggling unease settled over me which only grew stronger as Louise Voss describes the couples relationship and the changes that begin to occur through Ed’s diagnoses. Just as I thought the book was taking one direction Louise Voss threw a magnificent spanner in the works and the plot took a very sinister and disturbing turn. Superbly executed I literally sat their in stunned silence, as the author revealed twist after devious twist. Part domestic noir Louise Voss has proven it’s possible to write a unique story which still manages to maintain both the suspense and tension of a psychological thriller. The Old You will most definitely be on my top reads of 2018, it’s original, compelling with shocks galore, definitely my kind of book. Highly recommended. 

Yes I will giving The Old You the very prestigious Gold Star Award Rating. It’s given to a book I feel is particularly outstanding, a book that covers every aspect of what I look for in a read, an original  plot, great characters and a storyline that draws me in from the first page and keeps me in its grips until I reach the very last page.

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Print Length: 300 pages

Publisher: ORENDA BOOKS (28 Feb. 2018)

Buying links:   Amazon UK 🇬🇧        Amazon US 🇺🇸

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Kiss Me Kill Me by J. S. Carol #BookReview @JamesCarolBooks @BonnierZaffre

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Book description

She thought she could trust him. She was wrong . . . When Zoe meets Dan, he’s everything she is looking for in a man – intelligent, charming, supportive.It’s only after they’re married that she realises that he’s controlling, aggressive, paranoid.And there’s no way out.Or is there?

Zoe knows she has to escape, but Dan’s found her once before, and she knows he can find her again.But Dan has plans of his own. Plans that don’t necessarily include Zoe.Be careful who you trust . . .

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WOW, WOW and triple WOW! I loved Kiss Me Kill Me by J. S. Carol what a dark and twisted psychological thriller this one turned out to be. Any crime thriller lover will be familiar with James Carol and his crime books featuring Detective Jefferson Winter, which I’m a huge fan of by the way, the author has taken a step away from this series and written Kiss Me Kill Me a standalone psychological thriller.

From the book description I was expecting a “run of the mill” domestic noir kind of read, but how wrong I was! The author has written a gripping and highly compelling book that made it impossible to put down, cliched I know but in this case it’s very true. It’s one of those reads that unnerved me from the beginning with a constant sense of foreboding you just know this is one marriage that’s not going to end in a “happy ever after”.

Apologises for the vague review but this is definitely one of the less you know the more shocking the ride. What I loved about this book was the author’s ability to mislead the reader at every opportunity and he does it time after time, every time I thought I had it all worked out J. S. Carol hit me with another surprise. There are some uncomfortable scenes that deal with the ugly side of domestic abuse but they are fundamental to the plot and very much set the scene for the events that unfold.

J. S. Carol has taken the well used subject of domestic abuse and deftly turned it in to something much more than your garden variety psychological thriller. Kiss Me Kill Me is highly original, heart thumping and so very cleverly done, in case you haven’t already guessed I really, really enjoyed this book and would highly recommend it to anyone who is looking for a psychological thriller with more than twists than a roller coaster.

Paperback: 432 pages

Publisher: Zaffre (22 February 2018)

Buying link:    Amazon UK 🇬🇧

 

**Blog tour**Little Liar by Clare Boyd #BookReview @Bookouture @ClaireBoydClark

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Today I’m thrilled to be one of two stops on the Little Liar by Clare Boyd blog tour, you can catch my partner in crime (pun intended😂) Neats review over at The Haphazardous Hippo

Little Liar was published on the 1st February by one of my very favourite publishers Bookouture, so you don’t even have to wait to get a copy, pop over to Amazon and “click”. Before I share my review, what’s the book about? Read it on…….

Book description

The perfect family… or the perfect lie?

To the outside world, Gemma Bradley has it all – a doting husband, high-flying career and two delightful kids – but inside the four walls of her tastefully renovated home, she is a mother at her wits end who has given too many last warnings and counted to ten too many times.

When a child’s scream pierces the night, Gemma’s neighbour does what anyone would do: she calls the police. She wants to make sure that Rosie, the little girl next door, is safe.

Gemma knows she hasn’t done anything wrong, but the more she fights to defend the family she loves, the more her flawless life begins to crumble around her. Is the carefully guarded secret she’s been keeping suddenly in danger of breaking free?

When Rosie disappears, Gemma thinks she only has herself to blame. That is, until she discovers that Rosie has been keeping dark secrets of her own in a pink plastic diary.

Distraught and terrified, Gemma doesn’t know where to turn. The only thing she knows is that her daughter’s life is in danger…

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If you are thinking about becoming a parent anytime soon a word of warning you may want to give Little Liar a wide berth! Motherhood is often portrayed unrealistically in fiction, full time working mum, always manages to balance work V  home life perfectly, the children are the perfect “little cherubs”, but not in this book! Clare Boyd writes a very different and troubling tale of the challenges and the stormy side of being a mother.

Little Liar could be based on homes up and down the country, a child has a tantrum, (I’m sure every parent can relate to this at some point) screams the place down and a “kindly” neighbour reports the incident to the police, convinced the child is in danger. Unfortunately for Gemma, Mira a “helpful” neighbour hears Gemma’s daughter Rosie screaming and reports her concerns to the police, and so begins a train of events that will have far reaching and life changing consequences for both Gemma and Mira.

Essentially Little Liar is more Domestic Noir than a psychological thriller but don’t let that put you off, I personally enjoy this type of novel when it’s done well and considering this is the author’s debut novel I think she has done a remarkable job. The tension radiating from her characters is constant, rather like a cauldron you can feel the emotions bubbling away and at some point as the reader you know all these emotions are going to boil over, to the how and the why that’s for you as the reader to find out. At times I felt like like a voyeur watching Gemma’s family in crisis, some of Gemma’s actions towards her daughter made me feel uncomfortable,  but that said it certainly helped to create a disquieting read. Little Liar is one of those books that couldn’t be considered fast paced, it’s more subtle, slowly building on the suspense and tension and drawing the reader in.

As the title suggests most of the characters have something to lie about, and it’s these lies that make the basis of a very intriguing plot. If I’m honest it was difficult to find any empathy for any of the characters including Rosie, but this did not distract from the read. At times I could sense Gemma’s frustration and Rosie like many ten year olds knew exactly how to push her mothers buttons to provoke a reaction. Little Liar explores the sometimes difficult relationship between mother and child, the emotions, the guilt and the constant pressure to be the “best mother”. Well written with drama aplenty Little Liar is a thought provoking read that encompasses moral dilemmas that are relevant to today’s society. I think Little Liar is one of those books that will divide readers, I think some will love it and others not so, but then that’s the beauty of books, no two opinions are the same, personally I enjoyed Little Liar and look forward to seeing what Clare Boyd comes up with next.

Buying links:  Amazon UK 🇬🇧     Amazon US 🇺🇸

Print Length: 410 pages

Publisher: Bookouture (1 Feb. 2018)

About the author

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Clare lives with her husband and their two daughters in Surrey, where her little green shed at the bottom of the garden provides a haven for her writing life. Before becoming a writer, she enjoyed a career in television, as a researcher in documentaries and then as a script editor in drama at the BBC and Channel Four, where her love of storytelling took hold.
https://twitter.com/ClareBoydClark

My thanks to Kim Nash and Bookouture for an ARC in exchange for an honest review. 

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The Walls by Hollie Overton #BookReview

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Book description

What if you could get away with murder?

Single mom Kristy Tucker works as press agent for the Texas Department of Corrections – handling everything on death row, from inmate interviews to chronicling the last moments during an execution. Her job exposes Kristy to the worst of humanity and it’s one that’s beginning to take its toll.

So when Kristy meets Lance Dobson, her son’s martial arts instructor, she believed she finally found her happy ending. She was wrong.

Kristy soon discovers that Lance is a monster. Forced to endure his verbal and physical abuse, Kristy is serving her own life sentence . . . unless she’s willing to take matters into her hands. Perfectly poised to exploit the criminal justice system she knows so well, Kristy sets out to get rid of Lance – permanently.

IMG_2357There are plenty of psychological thrillers on the market that deal with domestic abuse and I’ve read a large majority of them, so I’m always looking for something that makes a story “unique”, a book that stands out from the crowd. The Walls connection to death row makes this book original and I really had high hopes for the latest book by Hollie Overton as it’s a book that explores domestic violence, the morality of murder and how far one woman will go to protect her family.

Personally I found The Walls a slow burner, in the authors defence she spends the time developing her characters and their background. We learn how Kristy is a single mum working as a Public Information Officer for the Texas Dept of Corrections, dealing with death row inmates, housed in The Walls. Her life pretty much revolves around her job, her teen age son and her elderly father. So when the charming Lance enters her life, Kirsten thinks she’s found her “happy ever after” but things take a sinster and dangerous turn and Kirsty soon realises she’s made the biggest mistake of her life. Kirsty thought the biggest monsters were the ones behind “The Walls” but she soon learns that’s not necessarily true.

It was interesting to see how Kristy’s opinions of the Death Row inmates changed as Lance’s violence and mind games escalated. I should point out at this point although this book deals with a difficult subject the author never goes over board, but just gives enough detail to show how abuse both mental and physical escalates. The letters that Kristy receives from an inmate highlight the injustices that exist within the walks, but it’s these letters that give her the strength and determination to do everything she can to protect herself and her family.

Although I enjoyed The Walls and it made for a quick read I did feel this book lacked the “thrilling” element, I really thought the author was going to throw in an almighty twist but unfortunately it never came to light. Although the story gathers momentum and suspense at the half way mark I was expecting something more. I’m sure there will be many readers who will rave about this book and I can see why, but I think because I read so many books in this genre I expected more thrills and chills, I want to finish a book thinking “WOW” unfortunately this wasn’t the case. I think I sometimes expect to much from a book and it’s author, and I definitely think The Walls is one of those books where I’m going to be in the minority.

Buying links:  Amazon UK 🇬🇧

Amazon U S 🇺🇸

Hardcover: 416 pages

Publisher: Century (10 Aug. 2017)

Never Let You Go by Chevy Stevens #BookReview

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Book description

Eleven years ago, Lindsey Nash escaped into the night with her young daughter and left an abusive relationship. Her ex-husband was sent to jail and she started over with a new life. Now, Lindsey is older and wiser, with a teenage daughter who needs her more than ever. When her ex-husband is finally released, Lindsey believes she’s cut all ties. But she gets the sense that someone is watching her. Her new boyfriend is threatened. Her home is invaded, and her daughter is shadowed. Lindsey is convinced it’s her ex-husband, even though he claims he’s a different person. But can he really change? Is the one who wants her dead closer to home than she thought?

img_1258I’ve been a huge fan of Chevy Stevens since I read her first novel Still Missing way back in 2010, so as you can imagine I couldn’t wait to start reading Never Let You Go. As I would expect this novel has all the hallmarks I have come to expect from this author, suspense, intrigue and plenty of twists and turns to keep the reader captivated. Never Let Yo Go is a disturbing and insightful study of domestic abuse with dark and dangerous undertones running throughout, which certainly made for a gripping read

This isn’t the most original plot Lindsey flees and abusive relationship, and years later thinks she’s being stalked by her ex husband, I’ve read numerous books with the very same theme running through them, but thanks to this authors descriptive writing and her ability to build skilfully on the suspense she manages to deliver an extremely disturbing tale. I should point out some readers might find this book distressing due to the scenes of domestic abuse.

The narrative goes back and forth between past and present and alternates between Lindsey and her daughter Sophie’s POV’s. The author uses this to good effect and the reader gets a sense of foreboding from the first chapter. Another factor that added to my enjoyment of this book were the different points of view of both Lindsey and Sophie, as you get different perspectives of events and characters.

Chevy Stevens expertly builds on Laura’s paranoia which in turn lead to the reader seeing each character as someone not to be trusted, as events take a sinister turn I had many a “heart in your mouth moments”. I became so engrossed in this story it was a difficult one to put down, as you reach the end of each chapter the tension is taut, and the sense of foreboding is overwhelming. With red herrings a plenty the author skilfully keeps the reader in suspense right up until the last few chapters which isn’t an easy task. If you enjoy a psychological thriller that explores obsession, jealousy, and relationships then I would recommend adding this one to your TBR pile.

Print Length: 415 pages

Publisher: Sphere (14 Mar. 2017)

Amazon UK 🇬🇧          Amazon US 🇺🇸

Bully Boy Blue by John Nicholl #BookReview @nicholl06

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Book description

Every aspect of Kathy’s life is dominated by her abusive bully boy husband. Now she’s pregnant and in fear for her life. Can she ever escape him?

img_1258BULLY BOY BLUE is a dark psychological suspense novella by John Nicholl, and when I say dark it’s really, really dark! It may only be a short story but the author certainly packs a powerful and disturbing tale into these pages. It’s dark, intense and hard hitting, in fact some readers may prefer to give Bully Boy Blue a miss as it deals with domestic abuse, and the author doesn’t hold back on the details.

The plot centres around Kathy whose life is dominated by her abusive husband Michael a pillar of society, unfortunately for Kathy whose going to believe her story? Can she escape the evil clutches of a monster? I’m certainly not going to give anything away here. Oh my Michael really is a nasty piece of work, as you learn more about his abusive behaviour towards Kathy I found my stomach turning, and all my sympathies lay with her. All I could hope for in this sorry tale was Michael would get what he deserved.

John Nicholl never fails to amaze me as his villains are always so well portrayed, so much so you can’t help but detest them for the terrible things they do and Michael is no exception. The author takes the worse parts of human behaviour and creates characters that you wouldn’t wish to meet in your worse nightmares. Bully Boy Blue makes for a grim, brutal and very disconcerting read, but it’s well plotted with a very satisfying conclusion.

Print Length: 60 pages

Publication Date: April 1, 2017

Amazon UK 🇬🇧