#psychologicalthriller #bookreview #literaturelove

Genre: Psychological Thriller

Publisher: Penguin

Published: 28th Nov 2019 (paperback)

27th June 2019 (ebook)

Reviewed: 28th July 2019


Leah is in love. It should be the happiest summer of her life, but she can’t help feeling lonely with Jake’s attention divided between her, his ex-wife and his young son. As insomnia sets in, the walls of their new basement flat feel as if they’re closing in around her. Until she meets her upstairs neighbour, Anton, who has recently moved back in after a long absence from the street. He’s a sympathetic ear when Jake can’t be, and even though others on the street seem strangely hostile towards him, Leah soon comes to rely on Anton and their secret conversations in the night.

Leah has no idea that nineteen years before, Anton was convicted of killing his wife. A wife who looked a little bit like Leah. He has always said he didn’t do it. Is Leah his redemption? Or is she befriending a killer intent on luring her closer and closer?

My Review

Written in third-person from the limited perspectives of Leah, Anton, and Hilary, Come A Little Closer is a spine tingling narrative that had me changing my mind and guessing right up to the very end. Although my first thought was the correct one, there were many times throughout the book where I thought the complete opposite. And there was a thought I had which I was certain would be the big twist but it turned out to be a red herring. I won’t say what that was in case other readers have this same thought!

Leah has a secret past of her own, a past that her boyfriend (Jake), knows nothing about, so when her new landlord (Anton) claims he is innocent of murdering his wife (Charlotte), a crime he has spent the last 19 years in prison for, she is quick to give him the benefit of the doubt. But with Leah being similar in appearance to Charlotte, he soon becomes infatuated with her; and with neighbour Hilary obsessed with Anton, Leah is in a very dangerous place within this creepy triangle.

Certain events are repeated, being told from the different points of view of one or more of the characters. I really liked this narrative form; how one character saw something another didn’t, or how another character was privy to something that another character knew nothing about. It is through this form of dramatic irony that the truth about Charlotte’s fate is gradually revealed. The narrative also includes quite a lot of internal monologue, especially from Hilary’s perspective, with certain events triggering past memories. This meant the narrative did jump around quite a lot from past to present within the same chapter, which was a little confusing in places but not overly so. The steady pacing throughout the first part of the story meant that actions of the characters were more believable: one small act, leading to another, building to terrifyingly disturbing scenes and a fast-paced climax.

I really enjoyed reading this book, even more so than Your Closest Friend, and would recommend this for fans of Ella Drummond or Shalini Boland.

Thank you to the author, publisher, and NetGalley

for an Advance Review Copy of this book

in return for an honest and unbiased review.

About the Author

Karen Perry is the Sunday Times bestselling author of Your Closest Friend, Can You Keep a Secret?, Girl Unknown, Only We Know and The Boy That Never Was, which was selected for the Simon Mayo Radio 2 Book Club. She lives in Dublin with her family.

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SLEEP by C L Taylor

#Psychologicalthriller #bookreview #bookbloggers #literaturelove

Genre: Psychological Thriller

Publisher: Avon Books UK

Published: 4th April 2019

Reviewed: 25th June 2019


All Anna wants is to be able to sleep. But crushing insomnia, terrifying night terrors and memories of that terrible night are making it impossible. If only she didn’t feel so guilty…

To escape her past, Anna takes a job at a hotel on the remote Scottish island of Rum, but when seven guests join her, what started as a retreat from the world turns into a deadly nightmare.

Each of the guests have a secret, but one of them is lying – about who they are and why they’re on the island. There’s a murderer staying in the Bay View hotel. And they’ve set their sights on Anna. Seven strangers. Seven secrets. One deadly lie.

My Review

Well, this wasn’t the read I was expecting at all. It was even better!

After reading the blurb, I thought the story’s title related to Anna, the protagonist, being too scared to go to sleep. To an extent it is, but the plot is much more complex than that and it wasn’t until the story reached its climax that the title of Sleep really hit me as being quite clever. I won’t say why as this would be a spoiler; but when you read it, it will make sense!

The author’s skilful use of language and sentence structure makes this an enjoyable read that sucks you right into the narrative, which combined with its fast paced plot made it difficult to find a natural break where I could put the book down without itching to pick it back up again for another sneaky read. There are a lot of flawed and damaged characters who feature prominently in the story, and with the four women guests having names that weren’t tied down to a particular age group, at times it was difficult to keep track of who was who. However, this kind of added to the story’s overall sense of confusion and unease. Anna knows one of the guests is out to get her but she doesn’t know which one.

Anna narrates through first-person, and the other characters are brought to life through limited third-person perspectives. This is the case not only for guests at the Bay View Hotel but also for characters from Anna’s past. This multiple narrative works particularly well for this ‘whodunnit’ type thriller. The first-person narration puts the reader in Anna’s shoes, feeling her guilt, whilst the third-person narration allows access to information that Anna isn’t privy to. To a degree, the guilt Anna feels isn’t justified, and the way she has been treated by both her colleagues and her boyfriend, adds to the sense of injustice. Following the climax, the story temporarily switches to first-person narration from the antagonist’s point of view. In complete contrast to Anna’s overwhelming yet unjustifiable guilt, the antagonist (sorry not going to name them here!) feels their psychotic perspective is rational. The author’s decision to portray this directly through the antagonist’s twisted sense of right and wrong really is quite chilling to the core.

The sense of claustrophobia and panic is intensified by the novel’s setting. Whilst the island of Rum is surrounded by wide open spaces, this is juxtaposed with it being cut off from the mainland. Modern technology is unreliable at the best of times on the island, but with the storm raging, communication with the outside world is impossible. With no immediate neighbours and no way of calling for help, this makes this ordinarily fresh rural setting a place of intense fear that is impossible to escape.

Whilst C L Taylor is in a league of her own, Sleep is an addictive and twisty read recommended for anybody who likes traditional Agatha Christy type thrillers as well as more contemporary thrillers such as An Unwanted Guest by Shari Lapena.

Thank you to the author, publisher, and NetGalley for an Advance Review Copy of this book

in return for an honest and unbiased review.

About the Author

WHAT SHE SAW by Wendy Clarke

#psychologicalthriller #twisty #bookreview

Publisher: Bookouture

Published: 29th April 2019

Reviewed: 10th June 2019


She lied to her daughter to save her family. Everyone knows Leona would do anything for her daughter Beth: she moved to Church Langdon to send Beth to the best school, worked hard to build a successful business to support them and found them the perfect little cottage to call home. Leona and Beth hike together, shop together, share their hopes and fears with one another. People say they’re more like best friends than mother and daughter. It’s the relationship every mother dreams of. But their closeness means that Beth struggles to make friends. Her mother has kept her sheltered from the world. She’s more reliant on her mother’s love. More vulnerable. When Beth finds an envelope hidden under the floorboards of their home, the contents make her heart stop. Everything she thought she knew about her mother is a lie. And she realises there is no one she can turn to for help. What if you’ve been protected from strangers your whole life, but the one person you can’t trust is the person closest to home?

My Review

A labyrinth of lies, secrets, and red herrings, this twisty debut psychological thriller had me gripped right up to the very end. It’s clear from the outset that Leona is a flaky character with anxiety issues, but are her fears real or imagined? This is a question that keeps the pages turning. Just what is Leona hiding from and why?

Set in the idyllic Lake District, at first you can’t help but want to pack your bags and join Leona; letting all your problems wash away as you breathe in the clean fresh air. However, this seemingly beautiful backdrop soon morphs into an ugly spine-chilling setting, which the author’s skillful writing brings to life on both accounts.

But if there’s one thing more heart-stopping than being in danger yourself, it’s your own child being in danger. This is something the author has done a particularly good job with. Juxtaposed to Leona’s first-person point-of-view, is the third-person limited perspective from her daughter, Beth. With her own set of teenage problems to deal with, Beth’s character plays a central role in the story, and switching narrative perspective works really well. Not only does the third-person perspective add a layer of dramatic irony, it also leaves the reader in no doubt that Leona is the protagonist, and as such she is the one who needs to overcome her past to save her daughter.

Wendy Clarke is definitely an author to look out for and I can’t wait for her second novel We Were Sisters, out 8th August 2019.

I would recommend this author for anybody who likes Jane Corry, Louise Jensen, or Lisa Jewell.

Thank you to the author, publisher, and NetGalley

for an Advance Review Copy of this book

in return for an honest and unbiased review.

About the Author

The Secret by K L Slater

#psychologicalthriller #bookreview #amwriting

Publisher: Bookouture

Date of Publication: 27th July 2018

Date of Review: 28th Jan 2019


You think you can trust the ones you love most.

But what if one secret could make you question everything?

Every day, a woman like Louise passes you in the street: elegant, confident, determined. But underneath, she’s struggling.

She doesn’t know her sister, Alice, has been scared of leaving the house since their mother died.

She doesn’t know when Alice babysits her little boy, Archie, he sometimes sees things he shouldn’t.

She doesn’t know Archie has a secret.

A secret that could send cracks through the heart of Louise’s carefully constructed life…

My Review

The Secret is an addictive ‘Domestic Noir’ style psychological thriller that delves into the toxic relationship between two sisters. Louise is a married career woman with an eight-year-old son, Archie. Alice is out of work and childless; she also suffers with ME and anxiety, and is scared to leave her home.

The story starts with a dual prologue: then and now. This is in first-person and from Archie’s perspective. What happened in the past, was witnessed by Archie, and it is this secret that fuels the narrative and keeps the pages turning.

Most of the story is narrated in first-person from Alice’s perspective, with some narration in third-person from Louise’s perspective. This dual narration adds to the ‘who’s telling the truth?’ element and allows a degree of empathy for Louise; although to be honest, she isn’t nice at all. Alice’s character is in first-person and this works really well, leaving the reader with no uncertain terms as to who the protagonist is. Alice suffers with ME and anxiety; I could feel the exhaustion and pain radiating throughout her body. Readers will be screaming at Alice and telling her to say ‘no’ to the demands of her bossy and overbearing sister. We learn early on that Alice’s health issues are linked to a previous relationship. I won’t say why this is as I don’t want to spoil things, but when she sees a stranger who looks similar to her ex, you start to question Alice’s sanity.

Alice’s nephew, Archie, is a wonderful character and really brings the story to life. Dealt a raw deal in life, with a mother and step-father who both put themselves and their own careers before their child, Archie finds solace in spending time with his Auntie Alice. This isn’t an easy relationship at first. Alice barely has enough energy to look after herself let alone stepping in to care for her sister’s child. But Louise is controlling and uses emotional blackmail, forcing Alice to agree to look after Archie. According to Louise, Archie has ADHD but when Alice starts to get to know him, and gives him the time and attention that is lacking at home, the pair bring out the best in each other, and Alice starts to questions whether this is true. Alice has had a horrendous past, and her health is at a point where it looks it is on a downward spiral with no way out. But whilst helping Archie, Alice unwittingly starts to turn a corner and she starts to integrate with the outside world.

Alice also starts to get to know one of her neighbours, Jenny. Jenny also has her own set of problems. But somebody doesn’t like Alice helping Jenny – or is it Archie they don’t like her helping? And just who is that guy who waves to Alice each morning from the tram, that reminds Alice of her ex?

True to its genre, the story is full of red-herrings. And just when you think you know what ‘The Secret’ is, think again! There’s yet another twist!

I really enjoyed reading this book. The things I will take away from this as a New Writer, are pacing of the narrative and how to drop seemingly inconsequential hints into the plot that only make sense once the twist is revealed.

Thank you to the author, publisher, and NetGalley for an Advance Review Copy of this book.

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