Book Review: Nobody Move by Philip Elliott

Nobody Move

Nobody Move Book Cover

Title: Nobody Move
Author: Philip Elliott
Series: Angel City # 1

Genre: Mystery/Thriller
Date of Publication: September 10, 2019
Publisher: Into the Void


Synopsis

When Eddie Vegas is sent to shake down a man who owes a lot of money to his employer, he makes a fatal error and ends up accidentally killing the guy.  Since Eddie’s boss now holds him personally responsible for repaying the $50,000, he takes off. Now, not only is Eddie on the run from his former boss and partners in crime, but the man he killed had allies that are out for blood. His blood.

My Thoughts

Nobody Move is a rocket-fast paced black-comedy thriller that I finished in just an evening.  It’s one of the books where I kept looking at the clock and saying “All right, I’ll read one more chapter”, and before I knew it, it was past my bedtime and I’d finished the book.

This novel reads like a noir thriller, particularly in the beginning.  Philip Elliott frequently references the movies that clearly inspired his style, like Pulp Fiction and the Godfather.  That said, I did get the feeling he was referencing movies a little too often.  It was humorous, however, that the bad guys were getting ideas for how to handle situations based on the movies they’d seen.  The book itself, including its plot and the way that Eddie keeps making foolish mistakes, reminds me a lot of the movie Fargo.  For example, some of the shadier characters tell little colourful anecdotes throughout the novel.  These little stories often have a hidden (or blatantly obvious) relevance to what’s going on and how the rest of the story will unfold.

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Book Review: The Whisper Man by Alex North

The Whisper Man

The Whisper Man Book cover

Title: The Whisper Man
Author: Alex North
Genre: Mystery/Thriller
Date of Publication: August 20, 2019
Publisher: Celadon Books


Synopsis

After the sudden death of Tom’s wife, he moves himself and his son, Jake, to the dreamy town of Featherbank to start over. Little does he know that a little boy was recently kidnapped and killed, in a way that is oddly reminiscent of the Whisper Man, a serial killer that haunted Featherbank twenty years earlier. A serial killer that is supposedly behind bars. Tom’s fresh start might be over before it begins, as the Whisper Man puts Jake in his cross hairs.

Plot

“If you leave a door half open, soon you’ll hear the whispers spoken”.

Chills!

The Whisper Man is one of the spookier thrillers I’ve read in a while. Fast-paced and atmospheric, I finished this book in just a couple of sleepless nights.

The book itself has a relatively common premise – a serial killer from years ago may have had a partner who has struck again. But this book introduces unique elements–The Whisper Man with his nursery rhyme, the multiple perspectives, including one of the father of a potential future victim. The story is gripping, and Alex North has a phenomenal way of taking this trope and running with it.

There are quite a few good twists in the book, and the first one actually had me reeling. I did not see it coming. I had to reread that page of that reveal a few times, because the knowledge would not stick!

Characters

One of the highlights of this book is the touching relationship between Tom and his son, Jake. Even though they haven’t had an easy time since Tom’s wife died, they love each other dearly, and it comes across in the writing. They fight, as many fathers and sons do, but everything is laced with the pain of losing someone so close to them.  There are fatherhood themes throughout the novel tie in together quite nicely to make this book more than just a thriller about a serial killer.

As mentioned earlier, the book is told in multiple perspectives. The protagonist, Tom, has chapters that are written in first person. We also get scenes from the points of view of Jake, as well as investigators Pete and Amanda, but these chapters are all in third person. Jake’s chapters were particularly engaging. They’re well-written, but you can easily tell they’re from the viewpoint of a child, with that wide-eyed innocence shining through in the author’s writing.

The Whisper Man

I recommend this book to those who want to read a serial killer thriller that is fast-paced, engaging, and not quite like the rest of them.

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*Thank you to Netgalley and Celadon Books for the arc to review*

Find the book:

Goodreads | Amazon

Book Review: Dear Wife by Kimberly Belle

Dear Wife book flat lay

Dear Wife Book cover

Title: Dear Wife
Author: Kimberly Belle
Genre: Thriller, Mystery
Date of Publication: June 25, 2019
Publisher: Park Row


Synopsis

Dear Wife tells the story of a woman who escapes her abusive husband, changes her look, changes her name, and goes on the run. Now Beth Murphy, she is desperate to be free from the man who made her live in fear for so many years. Back home, Jeffrey returns from a business trip to find that his wife, Sabine, is missing. Dear Wife follows their two stories, as well as the story of the police detective who will do anything to find the missing woman.

 My Thoughts

Dear Wife is an engaging read from cover to cover. While I predicted the plot twist early on, it didn’t matter. The tension Belle weaves into every page kept me riveted throughout the story.

That said, realizing the twist early on did allow me to spot a few plot holes. The story is told from three points of view, each first person. To not reveal the lies of one character is difficult, since we’re inside their head and we know exactly what they’re thinking. The selective thoughts of one character in particular make for a few plotholes, but I forgive this, since the book is otherwise quite well written.

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Book Review: Closer Than You Think by Lee Maguire

Closer Than You Think

Closer than you think book cover

Title: Closer Than You Think
Author: Lee Maguire
Series:
Broken Minds Thriller #1

Genre: Psychological Thriller
Date of Publication: October 22, 2018
Publisher: TCK Publishing


Synopsis:

In the first instalment in this “Broken Minds” mystery series, we’re introduced to Dr. Bryce Davison, a psychologist with his own broken mind.  His marriage is on the rocks, his insomnia is threatening his livelihood, and now he has a stalker. Someone who’s been watching him for a long time and is determined to destroy his marriage, his career, and his mind…

Plot

Dr. Bryce Davison is a mental health professional.  When he realizes that he has a stalker, the list of potential suspects is quite long.  This makes for an interesting mystery. I could immediately tell that the author works or has worked in the industry, because the writing has an authentic feel that permeates through the setting, the plot, and the way that Bryce talks about his career and his patients.

Maguire jumps right into the story with little explanation as to who the characters are. This made it a little difficult to get into and to understand. (For instance, it took me a few pages to figure out that “Max” was his dog).  That said, it’s definitely worth pushing through those first few chapters, because the excitement starts up pretty quickly and doesn’t let up for the whole book.  There are many twists and turns that make this book a one-sitting read.

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Book Review: Your Life is Mine by Nathan Ripley

Your Life is Mine book cover

Title: Your Life is Mine 
Author: Nathan Ripley
Genre: Mystery, Thriller
Date of Publication: June 4,  2019
Publisher: Atria Books


Synopsis

Blanche Potter is more than just a documentary film-maker.  She’s the daughter of infamous mass murderer and cult-leader Chuck Varner. Blanche wants nothing more than to leave her past behind her, but when her mother is murdered, she’s forced to return home.  She must go back to the place where it all began, and she fears that her father’s followers are only getting started…

Plot

This book is slow paced at the start. Ripley provides a lot of description of the setting and Blanche is quite introspective. The plot picks up as the story progresses, maintaining an even pace until the climactic finish.

There are excerpts from a true crime book scattered throughout the narrative.  They provide much-needed backstory that fills in the gaps in Blanche’s memory and let us know what was going on that Blanche hadn’t known about.  

While slow paced, there are leisurely twists and turns in the plot that kept me engaged in the story line. Despite the introspective nature of the book, it’s a quick read, and I gobbled it up in nearly one sitting.

While an engaging book, the story didn’t move quickly enough for me. I would have preferred for this to have been balanced with more twisted introspection, but the characters were quite tame compared to other books about serial killers.

Characters

The most intriguing part of this book is the main character. Blanche Potter is the daughter of a murderer and cult-leader.  She always knew who and what her father was, which makes for interesting backstory.

I was particularly fascinated by her friendship with Jaya. They’re best friends, and there are intriguing parallels in their histories. Blanche’s father was a murderer. Jaya’s father was murdered.  Their friendship is unlikely and compelling, and it was beautiful to see how much Blanche relied on that relationship, how much she leaned on Jaya in times of distress (which was basically this entire novel).

Your Life is Mine book

I recommend this book to any fan of serial-killer fiction. It puts more emphasis on character and atmosphere than on convoluted plots, which will appeal to those looking for a character study of the daughter of a mass murderer.

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*Thank you to Atria Books and NetGalley for the ARC for review*

Find the book:

Goodreads | Amazon

Book Review: Social Misconduct by S. J. Maher

Social Misconduct book cover

Social Misconduct book cover

Title: Social Misconduct
Author: S. J. Maher
Genre: Thriller
Date of Publication: April 23, 2019
Publisher: Simon Schuster


Synopsis

When Candace Walker starts a job at a marketing company in Manhattan, she’s thrilled about the perks, which include a brand-new company iPhone.  But someone should have told her not to click on attachments in texts from strangers. Her phone is hacked and her personal photos are shared with the world, threatening her career and her sanity.  A week later she’s on the run, accused of murder, and terrified for her life…

Plot

This book is a cautionary tale about social media and internet security. Have strong passwords, people! The story line is timely, especially in an era where privacy is almost entirely nonexistent.

The chapters of Social Misconduct plunge forward with very little break in between the action.  The chapters are short, and I often found myself thinking the cliché of “oh, well, I’ll just read one more chapter before bed”. That said, I sometimes thought the chapters were a little too short, since alternating chapters are in different timelines, and the transition between these two timelines often felt abrupt.  I was just learning about another incident of sexual harassment that had happened to Candace at her workplace in the past, and I’m already launched back into the present, where she’s in hiding and peeing into a bucket in a storage locker.

The novel has quite a few intriguing twists, although the final twist was a little obvious.

Language

As I said before, the story is very fast-paced, and there isn’t much time devoted to setting the scene or long-winded physical descriptions of characters, which I greatly appreciate in a thriller. However, the language Maher uses is a little too on-the-nose.  The protagonist is a millennial who works in marketing, and she talks exactly how you would expect a millennial stereotype to talk.  I understand that he’s going for authenticity, but how many times should he say “lame” before it comes across less “genuine”, and more “lazy writing”?  At times it was cringe-worthy, and resulted in an unintended lessening of the suspense of the novel. How frightened can a reader be about a psychotic stalker when the main character is saying “FML”. That made me LOL. (See what I did there?)

Character

I know quite a few vegans, and it’s characters like Candace Walker who give vegans a bad name. I wanted to slap her more than a few times.  She’s self-righteous, even though she gives up her values in an instant for the opportunity to do marketing for a cheese company.  *Insert eye roll here, please.*

I already talked a little bit about her character in the language section, but it became quite evident to me that Candace was two-dimensional. This is fine—since this is a primarily plot-driven book—but I would have been able to increase the number of stars in my rating if the character had been more believable to an actual human female millennial who does communications and marketing as a part of her job (me).

Also – Candace’s career is in shambles, yet she’s worried about her sister moving in on her crush? Seriously? She’s ambitious enough to give up her morals (veganism) in order to get ahead, yet when her future is on the line, she’s more worried about a guy she just met liking her sister more than he likes her. To be honest, I don’t blame him.

Another thing that really grated on my nerves was Candace’s casual considerations of committing suicide. This could be a legitimate character development for someone going through this type of experience; HOWEVER, it was not reflected in Candace’s outlook on life.  It was too casual.  It’s unsettling, how she flippantly mentions that suicide’s a possible way out.  Again, the way this came across might be because it’s a primarily plot-driven book, and Maher didn’t have a chance to delve very deeply into her psyche. But since it’s written in her point of view (in first person), I feel that if she was truly suffering from depression, it should have manifested itself in other aspects of her personality and inner dialogue.

Social Misconduct book cover

I recommend this book to anyone looking for a timely, rocket-ship-paced thriller about internet security.  It’s primarily plot-driven, and meant for those who want a quick thriller to read, not an in-depth character study of a millennial on the run.

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*Thank you to Simon Schuster and OLA Super Conference for the ARC for review*

Find the book:

Goodreads | Amazon

Book Review: Stone Mothers by Erin Kelly

Stone Mothers

Stone Mothers book cover

Title: Stone Mothers 
Author: Erin Kelly
Genre: Thriller, Mystery
Date of Publication: April 23, 2019
Publisher: Minotaur Books


Synopsis

Marianne left her hometown a long time ago, only returning for brief visits with her family.  But when her husband buys a surprise gift–a condo in a refurbished mental institution–she’s forced to come back and face her past.  A past that involves the once abandoned insane asylum and a decades-old secret that’s clawing its way back into the light…

Plot

The book begins with a very fast-paced, intense scene that’s wrought with tension. It’s not at all characteristic of the rest of the book, which is very slow and drawn out.  The novel opens with Marianne returning to her hometown outside of London to live in a condominium her husband bought (without consulting her, despite the fact that they can barely afford it).  The condominium is in a renovated mental institution that stood abandoned during Marianne’s teenage years.

Unfortunately I can’t go into detail on the best parts of the plot, because they took place two thirds of the way through the book.  I will say that the book is divided up into parts, and one of the later parts deals with the asylum historically, talking about themes of feminism and mental illness that were engaging, fascinating, and, quite frankly, horrifying.  

Continue reading “Book Review: Stone Mothers by Erin Kelly”

Book Review: The Hiding Place by C. J. Tudor

The Hiding Place book photo

The Hiding Place book cover

Title: The Hiding Place
Author: C. J. Tudor
Genre: Non-fiction
Date of Publication: February 5, 2019
Publisher: Crown Publishing


Synopsis

Joe Thorne never thought he’d return to Arnhill, the little northern England town where he grew up, but he finds himself taking a job as a teacher at the local school.  But he doesn’t take the job because he’s desperate for an income, or even because he’s driven to help the students.  Something terrible happened in this town when he was a child, and he thinks that it might be happening again.

Plot

I was enthralled by The Hiding Place from cover to cover.  This is one of the most engaging books I’ve read in a while.  Giving it 5 stars was a no-brainer.  I highly recommend this book to anyone who likes that feel of Gothic horror without it being too terrifying to be able to sleep afterwards.

While insanely atmospheric, C. J. Tudor keeps the plot moving forward.  There are numerous extended flashbacks to Joe’s schoolboy days, slowly revealing what really happened twenty years ago.  The book is incredibly creepy, but I wouldn’t quite classify this book as a horror, although towards the end things definitely turn… horrific.

There are quite a few twists in this story. A few of them I saw coming a mile away, but I didn’t mind.  The tumultuous journey towards these twists was so damn appealing.  

Characters

While I’m beginning to tire of the trope of the main character being incredibly flawed and unlikeable, this book is an exception. Joe Thorne is a liar. He’s a coward.  He’s a tad narcissistic.  He even has a limp and a gambling addiction which contribute to the myriad of problems he faces in the book.  But he still has a spark of likeability, and I think it’s because of a combination of two things. He’s got a great sense of humour—that dry sarcasm that I greatly appreciate in a protagonist. He also feels terribly about how he handled things when he was child, and he’s hoping to make up for his mistakes.  All these characteristics make for a dynamic and fascinating main character.

Language

This book wouldn’t be so mind-blowing if it weren’t impeccably written.  C. J. Tudor has a gift for language, and she had more than a handful of lines that gave me chills. That said, occasionally the book bordered on pretentious.  Joe Thorne has a lot of observations about the world, and occasionally I would cringe at how ostentatious he was coming across.  That said, I really didn’t notice this too much until towards the end, and by then I was so invested that it would have taken a sledgehammer of prose to get me to quit reading.

The Hiding Place book photo

While this book has supernatural elements, it shares a lot in common with the typical psychological thriller that it would appeal to everyone, except for people who detest anything remotely fantastical with every ounce of their bones. I recommend this who wants to read a spooky story set in a small town that’s rife with a dark history, muddy present, and unclear future.

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*Thank you to Crown Publishing and Netgalley for the ARC for review*

Find the book:

Goodreads | Amazon

Book Review: The Boy in the Suitcase by Lene Kaaberbøl and Agnete Friis

The boy in the suitcase picture

The Boy in the Suitcase book cover

Title: The Boy in the Suitcase
Author: Lene Kaaberbøl and Agnete Friis
Series: Nina Borg

Genre: Thriller 
Date of Publication: November 8, 2011
Publisher: Soho Crime 


Synopsis

Nina Borg’s old friend Karin gives her a key and tells her to follow her vague instructions, to go to the train station to pick up what’s in a locker, no questions asked. When Nina does this, she finds a suitcase with a tiny three-year-old boy inside. He’s still alive.  Nina hurries back to Karin to demand answers, but she discovers that her friend has been brutally murdered. Nina knows that her life–and the little boy’s–are also in danger.

Plot

The book begins by providing the points of view of several seemingly unconnected characters in quick succession. It was confusing, and not at all representative of the rest of the book, which was much easier to follow.  One of the characters that we follow from the beginning is Sigita, the mother of the little boy who was abducted.

The book is very fast-paced, but there are quite a few (quick) flashbacks that bog down the storytelling. The story probably could have been told in a hundred fewer pages.  There is one twist in the novel, which is revealed towards the end; however, it’s quite predictable, with the clues clearly laid out so that I saw it coming less than halfway through the book.  That said, the storytelling is intriguing and it’s a very quick read.

Characters

I did find that the characters were hard to relate to.  Told in third-person perspective, we never truly get into the heads of the characters–not even Nina, the main character.  I didn’t quite find that the emotions that different characters were feeling were carrying through in the writing.  For example, Sigita wasn’t panicking enough for my liking. If my child was kidnapped I’d probably spend about twenty minutes rolling on the floor in pure terror. Especially considering the circumstances surrounding her child’s abduction. She didn’t really think her husband had taken him. She knew from the start that he was taken by strangers.

The boy in the suitcase picture

I recommend this book to anyone who wants to dip their toes into a Nordic Noir mystery, but doesn’t know where to start. It isn’t as dark as others I’ve read, and it’s much easier to follow–both because of the writing style and because there aren’t quite as many different characters to keep track of.

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Find the book:

Goodreads | Amazon

Book Review: Androcide by Erec Stebbins

Androcide book photo

Androcide book cover

Title: Androcide
Author: Erec Stebbins
Genre: Mystery, Action, Spy
Date of Publication: September 26, 2017
Series: Intel 1 # 5
Publisher: Twice Pi Press


Synopsis

A serial killer targetting men is on the loose, leaving their mutilated bodies on display for women to find.  Meanwhile, Intel 1, a top-secret government agency, is tracking down the elusive Nemesis in Tehran… But how are these two stories connected?

Plot

This novel isn’t just a mystery. Just like the Goodreads blurb says: It’s an espionage thriller, a bio-thriller, political satire, and a police procedural.

I hadn’t read the previous four instalments in the this book, yet I jumped into this book with ease.  There are a lot of characters, but they very distinct from one another and Stebbins introduces them gradually enough that they’re easy to keep track of.

There are two main plotlines that are seemingly completely isolated from one another (at first).  There is a serial killer named the Eunuch Maker who is targetting men. Detective Tyrell Sacker is working with a PI named Grace Gone (LOVE her name AND her personality) to track down this elusive killer.

The second storyline follows the Intel 1 team, who I assume seasoned readers have already gotten to know in the previous four books in this series, as they complete a mission overseas.

These two stories are quite disparate, but Stebbins flows between them effortlessly.  That said, I preferred the storyline following the serial killer, but that might be because of my own twisted preferences.

Continue reading “Book Review: Androcide by Erec Stebbins”