THE KIND WORTH KILLING

5/5 stars

“I don’t think murder is necessarily as bad as people make it out to be. Everyone dies. What difference does it make if a few bad apples get pushed along a little sooner than God intended? And your wife, for example, seems like the kind worth killing.”
― Peter Swanson, The Kind Worth Killing

This first-rate domestic thriller has never gotten the attention it deserved. It won a couple of awards when it was released in 2015, but The Girl on the Train was published around the same time and that press junket steamrolled over any serious consideration The Kind Worth Killing was gaining as the go-to novel that year.

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A modern take on the Patricia Highsmith classic, Strangers on a Train, the story is told mostly through the voice of Lily. I read this over two years ago, and I still remember Lily! She is a terrifyingly, unreliable narrator due to her psychotic tendencies. Here’s the weird part: I started sympathizing with her and hoping she would get away with murder in the end. This is a talented writer, people! To turn readers into serial killer sympathizers, kudos to the skillful Peter Swanson!

If I summarize this book, it would be filled with spoilers. You’re most likely familiar with the Highsmith book or the Hitchcock movie, so you already know the plot. It is a cat and mouse game played with the highest stakes. But there is so much more in the way of characterization (especially Lily!) and plot twists and shocks and murder and…MAYHEM! Amen to that.

Now is the time to pull THE KIND WORTH KILLING out of your TBR stack. You will be rewarded with lots of creepiness and an unputdownable story.

AMAZON LINK: The Kind Worth Killing: A Novel

DARK MATTER

5/5 stars

  • Author: Blake Crouch
  • Crown Publishers
  • Published 7.26.2016

“We’re more than the sum total of our choices, that all the paths we might have taken factor somehow into the math of our identity.”
― Blake Crouch, Dark Matter 

Sometimes the perfect book comes into your life at the perfect time. Dark Matter kept catching my eye in the year that it has been published. But, ya know, sometimes I like sci-fi and sometimes I don’t. I happened to hear Anne Bogel on her podcast “What Should I Read Next” recommend this book to a reader. She said it’s not too science-y. She’s right. I would describe Dark Matter as a suspenseful love story with a lot of cool sci-fi elements thrown in.

Jason, our main character, goes out to buy ice cream one evening and is abducted at gunpoint, drugged, and wakes up in a Chicago that is not his own. His wife and child are not his wife and child anymore and he is a prize-winning physicist in this new world who has invented a way to travel to an infinite number of universes (the multiverse).  He is on a mission to get back to his universe with his wife and child in his own life. The story that follows is one of lost opportunities, what ifs, and how the smallest decisions affect our life. It’s kind of a “Sliding Doors” premise with a sci-fi twist.

Blake Crouch writes in an exciting fast manner, you can read this book in a matter of hours (and you will want to!). I heard he’s writing the screenplay for the movie and I have no doubt it will be amazing. His writing is well suited to a screenplay. Short and to the point on descriptions, dialogues, relationships.

The book is suspenseful because he is on the run and desperate to find who has taken his place in his original universe with the love of his life, Daniela.

He’s not time traveling, he is jumping between different universes at one point in time. Sometimes he encounters a horrifyingly post-apocalyptic Chicago and another time he finds an angelic, seemingly futuristic Chicago. But all of these worlds are existing now because of choices we made as the human race in that world.  AAHHHH, I can’t even explain it, but it works!

After a summer filled with reading the same-old-domestic-suspense stories, Dark Matter was a breath of fresh air.  I absolutely loved it. You don’t need to understand quantum physics to understand this book. Suspend all disbelief, buckle your seatbelt and let Blake Crouch do the driving.

Dark Matter: A Novel AMAZON link

IN A DARK, DARK WOOD

4/5 Stars

  • Author: Ruth Ware
  • Published August 4th 2015 by Simon & Schuster Audio
  • Audio book narrated by Imogen Church
  • 9 hrs and 34 mins

There have been many reviews for the regular book version of IN A DARK, DARK WOOD by Ruth Ware, but my review is for the audio version. I have had the actual book for awhile now and for some reason, every time I picked it up I just could not stay with it due to my unfortunately short attention span. As happens so many times, a beautifully made audio version of the same book will quickly suck me in, even if I just read the same words myself and they seemed so uninteresting in my own head. The fabulous Imogen Church is the narrator, she is wonderful and a one-woman show, acting out all the roles with authentically nuanced personality traits. I had previously enjoyed her narrations of Alex Marwood’s THE KILLER NEXT DOOR and all the BRIDGET JONES’S DIARY books by Helen Fielding. Ms. Church is also reading Ruth Ware’s next two books and I will definitely be listening.

I LOVE listening to this book. For me, the audio version is much more entertaining and suspenseful than reading it with my own eyeballs. So, maybe, Reese Witherspoon will take it up the next step and the movie version will be even better!!? (fingers crossed!). The story revolves around six frenemies tucked away for a “hen party” in a cottage in a dark wood far away from civilization. I guarantee that you have never been to a bachelorette party like this. The creepy location, the sarcastic barbs the “friends” hurl on each other, the drug use, the Ouji board playing, and last, but not least, clay pigeon shooting as the main activity, all work together to create plenty of foreshadowing of the murder we know is going to happen. But, which of the friends is the killer? And who gets killed? The book is written in a first person POV by Nora who has unfortunately suffered a terrible head trauma and is, therefore, a most unreliable narrator (yippeeeee, I love unreliable narrators!).

The story pays homage to the Agatha Christie “locked room” murder motif, one of many a mystery lover’s favorite plot devices. You will figure out the ending way before the main character does (sadly, no plot twist), but it is still a really well written psychological mystery and an excellent debut for Ruth Ware. THE WOMAN IN CABIN 10 is wildly popular and that’s always a plus for a new author, to be on the upward trajectory. I’m hearing great things about her third book, THE LYING GAME, to be published July 25, 2017.

click here to get your Audio version! In a Dark, Dark Wood

ARE YOU SLEEPING

4/5 Stars

  • Kindle Edition, 320 pages Hardcover 336 pages
  • Author: Kathleen Barber35660402
  • Publication: August 1st 2017 by Gallery Books

Josie’s father was murdered by a teenage neighbor ten years ago, when she was still a girl. The killer was sent to prison and Josie’s family fell apart. Her mother, an emotional wreck, up and left Josie and her twin sister, Lanie, to join a cult in Northern California. She never saw or spoke to her daughters again. Josie and Lanie, the twins, are left to live their teenage years with their Aunt Amelia and cousin Ellen. Lanie was the single eyewitness to the murder, the reason the killer was caught and sentenced to life. She was also the more rebellious of the two girls and she ends up on a dangerous path of truancy, drugs and law-breaking. In a fit of anger, she yells at Josie to just go away and leave her alone.

Josie did go away. She changed her last name. She backpacked the world and met a wonderful guy, Caleb. They settled in Brooklyn and she never explained her horrific family history or even that she had a twin sister. It was all too painful for her and she wanted to keep Caleb free from the drama of her past.

Along comes the 21st century journalistic phenomenon: the true crime podcast. And guess what crime Poppy Parnell, the perky blogger, wants to dig up and examine with a fine tooth comb? Yep, the murder of Josie’s dad. Josie is absolutely terror-stricken to hear people on the subway and in grocery stores discussing the podcast, her personal life horror show openly tweeted about by complete strangers. It seems like everyone is obsessed with “Reconsidered” the podcast. Was the wrong man convicted? There are witnesses that place the teenage killer at a park miles away from the crime. He didn’t have a weapon.

When Josie’s mother hangs herself during the height of the podcast mania, Josie finds herself having to face all the lies she has told Caleb and all the details of her past. She must reconnect with her twin sister, Lanie, and ask her once and for all about the night of the murder. Was Lanie honest about that night?

The story is fast-moving and suspenseful. I love the podcast element to this book (Ask me about UP AND VANISHED, please!). There is a whole sub-theme about public shaming on social media. I wish the plot had been a bit twistier and darker. It’s borderline, dare I say it… Predictable. You will figure out “whodunnit” before the big reveal,  but it is not boring. The characters are very real and fleshed out. I absolutely love Josie’s cousin, Ellen, she is hilarious.

ARE YOU SLEEPING reminds me very much of THE LUCKIEST GIRL ALIVE and RECONSTRUCTING AMELIA. If you liked those books, you will love this one, too.

click on any image above for AMAZON U.S.

SEE WHAT I HAVE DONE

Unknown-14/5 Stars

  • Author: Sarah Schmidt
  • Expected publication:  August 1st 2017 by Atlantic Monthly Press
  • Hardcover, 336 pages

Sarah Schmidt is a brilliant, exciting new author hailing from Australia. Her debut novel, SEE WHAT I HAVE DONE, is a clever reimagining of a well-known American murder mystery. (Not only that, but what about that gorgeous cover? I gotta thing for creepy looking bird covers.)

On a sweltering August morning in 1892, Lizzie Borden’s father and stepmother were hacked to death in their Massachusetts home with a hatchet. Lizzie was accused of the murders, locked up for ten months and tried in court. She was acquitted by the jury of twelve men. “The jurymen considered the fact that no one found blood on Lizzie, considered the fact that the house showed no signs of forced entry, considered the fact that Andrew could be a very hard man, considered that there was no murder weapon found.” But, ultimately, they decided Lizzie was innocent because “women just don’t do this type of crime.”

These are the facts. But there are more layers in this horror story than the dust that has built up on the Borden parlor rug. The author lures readers like a witch’s bony finger beckoning, inviting you to a front row seat in this dysfunctional, hateful family psychodrama. The writing is cryptic, creepy, and dreamy. The disturbed childish thoughts endlessly spit out of Lizzie’s mind. It is a suffocating book with no escape.

While the writing is of the highest quality, the content is so gruesome and macabre, I can only recommend SEE WHAT I HAVE DONE with reservations. This is not for the namby-pamby reader. I consider myself somewhat stouthearted, but I turned absolutely green around the gills while reading this book with my morning oatmeal.  I REPEAT: Do not eat and read this book at the same time unless you have a cast iron stomach. I don’t have a total count on how many times the words blood, vomit, hair, congealed or thick fluids is used, but trust me, it is up there.

Oh and by the way, prepare yourself to find unpleasant body odors described in detail and often. You get the idea, now proceed with caution, it’s an excellent story.

AMAZON link See What I Have Done

THE CHILD

 

4/5 Stars

  • Author: Fiona Barton
  • Published June 29th 2017 by Transworld Digital (first published June 27th 2017)

I guess I’m one of the few mystery lovers on the planet that didn’t read Fiona Barton’s debut, The Widow, last year. The Widow won all kinds of awards, including an NPR Best Book of 2016 accolade.

I stumbled onto The Child, the author’s sophomore attempt, and was very pleasantly surprised. It is a snappy, cozy little Brit mystery with interesting characters and a major plot twist ending. No one changes bodies or minds or whatever,  yet Fiona Barton masterfully weaves all the clues together to form a satisfying, realistic and just creepy enough ending.

I really, really like the main character, Kate Waters. She is an old-school reporter still fighting for respect as a newspaper woman in a digital age. Remember newspaper journalists? I kind of miss those hard-hitting-go-after-the-story-characters-despite-police-warnings to back off (sorry for all the hyphens!). Whatever happened to those guys? Nowadays the local news reports are mostly filled with Facebook and Twitter highlights. The character, Kate Waters, is in The Widow, but the books are not part of a series. Read either one first, it won’t matter to the plot, and I’m sure you will enjoy both.

There are a handful of other characters in the book and the author does not bog down in the details of their lives, making for fast and furious page turning. The plot is somewhat complicated, not overly so, and the surprise ending is completely plausible. Yes!

This must be the year of missing baby mysteries, but unlike Michael Robotham’s The Secrets She Keeps, The Child is multi-layered story and much more interesting mainly due to the relatable character of Kate Waters. This is definitely a page-turner for your Summer 2017 TBR stack. Now please excuse me while I go download The Widow.

AMAZON The Child The Child
AMAZON The Widow The Widow

NO EXIT

 5/5 Stars

  • Author: Taylor Adams
  • Kindle Edition, 278 pages
  • Published June 25th 2017 by Joffe Books

BE A PART OF THE MASSES WHO ARE READING THIS BOOK NOW! NO EXIT IS CURRENTLY ON THE TOP TEN BESTSELLER LIST as of 8-5-17 ! Just click on the image above to buy your copy today!

ATTENTION MY FELLOW TWISTERS!! Drop everything, run to the bookstore, Amazon, library or your Audible account . NO EXIT by Taylor Adams is your magic carpet ride out of a sweltering summer and into a twisted snowy hell.

A kidnapped little girl locked in a stranger’s van. No help for miles. What would you do?

Darby Thorne is a college student stranded by a blizzard at a highway rest stop in the middle of nowhere. She’s on the way home to see her sick mother. She’ll have to spend the night in the rest stop with four complete strangers. Then she stumbles across a little girl locked inside one of their parked cars. There is no cell phone reception, no telephone, no way out because of the snow, and she doesn’t know which one of the other travelers is the kidnapper.

The entire story takes place in a rest exit stop in the Colorado mountains in the span of just one night. The setting is eerily reminiscent of THE SHINING and the mood is equally as creepy.

The first plot turn left me literally breathless (I was caught off guard I LOVE THAT!!), and trust me, that’s not the only bolt out of the blue. The uneasy suspense builds page after page until all the characters have gone off the deep end and completely off course. Darby Thorne is the reluctant leader of a child rescue attempt. I identified with her from the start, she cares about others – but, she would rather not get involved, you know? She is forced to overcome her hesitancies for the sake of the abducted child and goes full throttle until the shocking climax of the story. Don’t miss the Epilogue! Oh, man, this book is good.

I cannot wait to see the movie version. Hey Hollywood! Here’s the perfect script, we all need more escapist diversions from our boring lives, right? Please please make NO EXIT into a movie, thank you very much.

Amazon link NO EXIT a gripping thriller full of heart-stopping twists