Book Review: Lock Every Door by Riley Sager

Lock Every Door

Lock Every Door Cover

Title: Lock Every Door
Author: Riley Sager
Genre: Mystery, Thriller
Date of Publication: July 2, 2019
Publisher: Dutton


Synopsis

Jules Larson is broke. She found out that her boyfriend was cheating on her the same day she lost her job, and now she is also homeless. So, she seeks out a new job as an apartment sitter so she’ll have a place to live while she job hunts. Little does she know that the apartment is in the Bartholomew, one of New York City’s oldest and most historical buildings, and the setting of her favourite novel. When she accepts the job, the rules she is required to follow seem a little strange, but they’re paying her so much money that she doesn’t ask any questions. That is, until she starts to wonder what has happened to the other apartment sitters…

Plot 

This novel has an intriguing premise. The plot is steady throughout, and as is very common in psychological thrillers these days, we’re introduced to two timelines. The present day, where Jules has awoken after a car accident in which she got into after “escaping” the Bartholomew. And one to a week or two earlier, when she first accepts the job as an apartment sitter, all bright eyed and filled with hope. While I understand that this type of storytelling is necessary for the lazy reader these days–I guess we don’t like reading something unless there’s action right away–I rarely enjoy this in novels. For Lock Every Door, most of the story is written about the events leading up to whatever frightened her so much that she didn’t obey the cardinal rule of looking both ways before crossing the street. While Sager may have been forced into this dual narrative, he does a fabulous job of not revealing too much in the present day timeline. He does this by keeping these chapters short and punchy, and they actually left me wanting more. 

The twist at the end of the novel wasn’t quite as good as I was expecting. There’s a development previous to this twist, introduced as a red herring to distract from the truth, and to be honest, I would have preferred if that were the twist. However, the story is just so darn compelling, and the execution of this twist was quite well done, so I don’t mind that it’s a little far-fetched.

Characters 

While the characters are engaging in this novel, I did find that they were generally quite stereotypical, and we didn’t really get that exciting moment of finding out that there’s more to someone than meets the eye (aside from the twist at the ending – being vague so I won’t spoil it for anyone!). There’s the rich former film star, the handsome, charming doctor, and the manic pixie dreamgirl, who actually gets called such in the novel. However, despite the rather two-dimensional side characters, I found that I genuinely connected with the protagonist.  She was a compelling and relatable person who was just a normal woman trying to get by after losing her job, her boyfriend, and her home.  

Setting 

Like any good thriller set in a location of relevance to the plot, the setting is its own character. The Bartholomew has a sordid history that is gradually revealed.  

Language

The prose in Sager’s writing is often what makes the book such a fantastic read. While the plot in this story wasn’t as unique as The Last Time I Lied, the writing was so beautiful that I didn’t care. I can’t wait for Sager’s next book!

Lock Every Door

 

I recommend this book to anyone wanting to read a psychological thriller with a Gothic feel, a relatable protagonist, and isn’t afraid to suspend their disbelief.

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*Thank you to NetGalley and Dutton for the e-copy for review*

Find the book:

Goodreads | Amazon

Book Review: A Madness of Sunshine by Nalini Singh

A Madness of Sunshine

A Madness of Sunshine

Title: A Madness of Sunshine
Author: Nalini Singh
Genre: Mystery, Thriller
Date of Publication: December 3, 2019
Publisher: Berkley


Synopsis

When Anahera’s husband dies, she decides to return home to Golden Cove, a little town in New Zealand where she grew up. But soon after her arrival, a popular young woman goes missing, and it’s up to Anahera and the town’s sole cop to figure out what happened to her.  Nothing is as it seems, and this little town has more than its fair share of suspects…

Plot

A Madness of Sunshine is an engaging read from its very first line. While engaging, it is a slower read, and Singh puts an emphasis on building the town and its characters prior to introducing the overall mystery.  The plot takes on the characteristics of an Agatha Christie mystery.  Whatever happened to Miriama, it’s clear from the beginning that someone in town knows what happened to her. It becomes evident that we already know the character responsible for her disappearance, and it’s up to Anahera and Tom to find out who.  While reading the book, I wrote the note “these people are all assholes”, and that’s true. There are so many potential murderers/psychopaths, that it seems like anyone could be responsible for Miriama’s disappearance. 

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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.

Continue reading “Book Review: Nobody Move by Philip Elliott”

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: 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: 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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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”

Book Review: The Huntress by Kate Quinn

The Huntress Book cover reading

The Huntress book cover

Title: The Huntress
Author: Kate Quinn
Genre: Historical Fiction,Thriller 
Date of Publication: February 26, 2019
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks


Synopsis

Nina Markova was a female bomber pilot in World War II.  Badass, reckless, and a little crazy, Nina was a member of an infamous regiment called the Night Witches, which comprised solely of women fighter pilots.  But when Nina crosses paths with a Nazi murderess, The Huntress, she barely manages to escape with her life.  After the war, she joins forces with Nazi hunter Ian Graham to hunt down the elusive Huntress…

Plot

The Huntress follows three seemingly disparate storylines across the length of the book.  Told from three unique POVs, the three stories are also set at different times – one before and then during World War II, one that begins a year after its end, and one set in 1950.

Nina is a Russian pilot, and, according to the book’s blurb, the main character. The novel follows her in the years before joining the Night Witches, revealing to the reader just how harsh it was to grow up in an isolated rural region in Russia. But when she joins the Night Witches, she finds her true love – the sky.

Ian Graham is a former British war correspondent turned Nazi hunter. He works with his partner Tony to find and capture Nazi war criminals. After taking down numerous bad guys, he decides to target the one he’s really after–the Huntress–the woman who murdered his brother.

Jordan McBride is a Bostonian teenager whose father falls madly in love with a secretive German woman with a mysterious past. Her father marries this woman, Annelise, adopting her child as his own, but Jordan can’t fight the sneaking suspicion that Annelise isn’t quite what she seems. A burgeoning photographer, Jordan is always looking to snap pictures of her family. But why won’t Annelise let her take her picture?

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Book Review: Missing Daughter by Rick Mofina

Missing Daughter Book

Missing Daughter book cover

Title: Missing Daughter
Author: Rick Mofina
Genre: Mystery
Date of Publication: February 19, 2019
Publisher: MIRA


Synopsis

It starts off just like any other night.  Karen and Ryan come home after date night, pay the babysitter, check on their children, then go to bed.  The following morning, twelve-year-old Maddie is missing.  This novel details the investigation that follows this horrific discovery.  Everyone has their secrets, from Karen and Ryan to Maddie’s friends.  But will the police be able to sift through all the lies and deception and find out whatever really happened to Maddie Lane?

Plot

Missing Daughter has a lot of police procedural content, yet it still manages to be fast paced.  Some aspects of the investigation might not be for everyone, but I recommend this book to those who are fascinated by following how a police investigation like this unfolds.

Missing Daughter occasionally came across as repetitive. We follow one character making a phone call and informing someone of something, and then we follow that someone making a subsequent phone call informing someone else of said thing.  However, this rang true of what would really happen in a case like this, and this realism make the book so much more engrossing.  Mofina wasn’t cutting out information that might not be of interest to the reader, and as a result, any innocuous little detail felt like it could be a clue.

Sometimes this repetition was very effective. For example, towards the beginning of the book, the father, wife, and son are all put through polygraph testing.  It was repetitive in the sense that Mofina describes each one of them being set up with electrodes and answering the baseline questions.  But this effectively jacked up the tension in the scene.  Despite any repetition in the story, the plot was still incredibly fast paced, so it did not slow down the story telling at all.

After reading this book, I now feel intimately familiar with the inner workings of a missing child investigation. While Mofina says that he has taken some creative liberties to the actual process taken, his experience has a court reporter is quite clear in how genuinely he portrays the investigation.

There is quite a bit of detail in the plot, which made the read much more intriguing. There were so many little seemingly inconsequential elements that could lead to nothing or could crack the whole case wide open.  I love having so many clues to sift through, because uncovering the twists before they happen becomes far more difficult.

Characters

There are a lot of characters introduced in this book in a short period of time, and it isn’t immediately evident who is important and who isn’t.  Mofina names many family friends and family members in the first few chapters of the book, which slowed down the reading slightly, as I wasn’t sure which characters would become important as the story progressed. However, this in itself is true to real life. Most people have more than two or three friends to call on in a crisis.

The story follows the all the characters in third person POV that doesn’t quite allow us to get into the heads of the readers. This is a good thing, because I probably would have been sobbing the entire time if I was truly feeling what the parents were feeling when their daughter goes missing.  That said, towards the end the raw emotion started to break through—particularly when the parents are watching Maddie’s home videos.

Mofina uses flashbacks to flesh out a few of the main characters, and it’s well done, as these flashbacks sometimes came into light with the current storyline that was playing out.

Missing Daughter Book

Overall, I recommend this book to anyone looking for a mystery with lots of twists and turns, a fast plot, and a focus on the investigation of the crime itself rather than delving deeply into characterization.

*Thank you to MIRA and the author for the book for review!*

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Book Review: Say You’re Sorry by Karen Rose

Say You're Sorry book photo

Say You're Sorry Book Cover

Title: Say You’re Sorry
Author: Karen Rose
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Series: The Sacramento Series book 1

Date of Publication: February 12, 2019
Publisher: Berkley Publishing Group


Synopsis

When a serial killer targets Daisy Dawson, he doesn’t expect her to fight back. But she does, and she manages to grab the locket he wears around his neck during the struggle.  This locket connects to a cult that Agent Gideon Reynolds of the FBI escaped when he was only 13 years old.  He is driven to find that cult and expose them, saving the women and children from their psychotic leader’s tyranny.  This serial killer is Gideon’s one tangible connection to the cult.  He’s assigned to Daisy to protect her from the killer and hopefully draw him out.  Daisy and Gideon have undeniable chemistry, and Gideon quickly realizes that Daisy isn’t as helpless as he thought she was…

Language

First off, I want to say that Karen Rose is an excellent writer. Everything she writes is wrought with tension, and she creates such dynamic and realistic characters that it’s hard not to grow attached to every single one of them, even minor characters.  This is the primary reason why I gave Say You’re Sorry a 4 star rating, even though I had several issues with the plot, pacing, and characters.

Continue reading “Book Review: Say You’re Sorry by Karen Rose”