#TuesdayBookBlog ‘Something in the Water’ by Catherine Steadman #Amreading #Bookreviews #Thriller

Today I’m reviewing Something in the Water by Catherine Steadman.

Blurb

If you could make one simple choice that would change your life forever, would you?

Erin is a documentary filmmaker on the brink of a professional breakthrough, Mark a handsome investment banker with big plans. Passionately in love, they embark on a dream honeymoon to the tropical island of Bora Bora, where they enjoy the sun, the sand, and each other. Then, while scuba diving in the crystal blue sea, they find something in the water. . . .

Could the life of your dreams be the stuff of nightmares?

Suddenly the newlyweds must make a dangerous choice: to speak out or to protect their secret. After all, if no one else knows, who would be hurt? Their decision will trigger a devastating chain of events.

Have you ever wondered how long it takes to dig a grave?

Wonder no longer. Catherine Steadman’s enthralling voice shines throughout this spellbinding debut novel. With piercing insight and fascinating twists, Something in the Water challenges the reader to confront the hopes we desperately cling to, the ideals we’re tempted to abandon, and the perfect lies we tell ourselves.

 ****

My Review

Something In the Water is an absolutely brilliant crime thriller set in the UK.

The novel is narrated in first person by Erin, a documentary film maker. The first chapter is a shocking scene of Erin burying someone in the woods, and then the narrative goes back three months to Mark and Erin’s anniversary and moves forward gradually to the present time.

The first part of the novel is a slow burn, as we find out how the couple met, over five years earlier, and what their first years together were like as a happy young, professional couple working hard, making money and enjoying life.

The novel picks up a faster pace when they decide to get married, shortly after Mark, who works in banking, loses his job, and they go on honeymoon to Bora Bora, where they accidentally become involved in international crime.

The rest of the novel rushes full speed ahead as Erin tells us how their lives are turned upside down and their relationship deteriorates as a result.

The ending, where matters escalate, is unexpected and disastrous. I felt as devastated as Erin by the outcome of their dilemma, and yet she was lucky enough to have friends in the right places, so the disaster was not as bad as it could have been, for her.

There is a hopeful, but open ending, which was a great way to round off the novel. I’m even tempted to imagine there may be a sequel…

I listened to the audio book, and the fact that the author, Catherine Steadman, who is also a fabulous actress, is the narrator was an added bonus.

Something in the Water is an enthralling read, at the beach, at the pool, at home, on the train, or wherever you  happen to be this summer.

Lovers of suspenseful crime thrillers will not be disappointed.

I’m impatiently looking forward to Catherine Steadman’s next novel.

****

Something in the Water was published by Ballantine Books in June 2018, and it’s already on the bestseller lists.
Find out more and check out other reviews on Amazon UK and Amazon US.

****

About Catherine Steadman

Catherine Steadman is an actress and writer based in North London, UK. She is best known for her role as Mabel Lane Fox in Downton Abbey and is currently filming on the new Starz television series ‘The Rook’. She grew up in the New Forest, UK, and lives with a small dog and an average sized man. Something in the Water is her first novel.

****

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#TuesdayBookBlog ‘The Thinnest Air’ by Minka Kent #Amreading #Bookreviews

Today I’m reviewing The Thinnest Air by Minka Kent.

Blurb

Meredith Price is the luckiest woman alive. Her husband, Andrew, is a charming and successful financial broker. She has two lovely stepchildren and is living in affluence in a mountain resort town. After three years of marriage, Meredith’s life has become predictable. Until the day she disappears.
Her car has been discovered in a grocery store parking lot—purse and phone undisturbed on the passenger seat, keys in the ignition, no sign of struggle, and no evidence of foul play. It’s as if she vanished into thin air.
It’s not like Meredith to simply abandon her loved ones. And no one in this town would have reason to harm her. When her desperate sister, Greer, arrives, she must face a disturbing question: What if no one really knows Meredith at all? For Greer, finding her sister isn’t going to be easy…because where she’s looking is going to get very, very dark.

****

My Review

I enjoyed Minka Kent’s debut novel, The Memory Watcher, so I was happy to read The Thinnest Air, which has been published earlier this month.

The Thinnest Air is a well written and tightly plotted psychological suspense.

There are plenty of things to praise and enjoy about this novel and one aspect which disappointed me.

In the first place, I loved the dual narrators and the two time-lines in their narration. Meredith Price starts telling the story backwards, in chapter one, starting from her honeymoon, three years earlier, and her sister Greer, starts telling the story the day her sister, Meredith, goes missing and moves forward for ten days until the mystery is finally solved, starting at chapter two. Both narratives merge in the final chapters.

The plot was cleverly contrived and unravelled by both sisters’ alternating narratives.

The second aspect which stands out positively is the characterisation, especially of the narrators. Both sisters have a very close bond, in spite of their completely different characters and lifestyles. Greer is too forthright and lacks social skills, while Meredith is too easy-going and pleasure-loving. Neither is completely likeable, although Greer’s, no-nonsense approach to life and strong work ethic appealed to me more than Meredith’s laid back approach and excessive love of luxury and short-term satisfaction.

The secondary characters were mostly well-rounded, although a few did seem to be clichés, for example the bitchy ex-wife.

Thirdly, the suspense was cleverly built up from chapter two and never slowed down. Most of the twists and turns were believable and added to the suspense, but not all of them, one or two, especially towards the end, did seem to have been placed just to add another red herring.

Although I’d recommend this novel and overall I enjoyed it and couldn’t stop turning the pages to find out what had happened to Meredith, the one thing that irked me was the ending.

I wasn’t personally satisfied with the final outcome, although it was mostly rational and, more or less, believable.

I fully understand the need for the psychological suspense genre to surprise and/or shock the reader with the resolution, but there were plenty of unlikable characters, who had the motivation and opportunity to harm Meredith, and finally I was more disappointed than surprised by the identity and motivations of the actual culprit, and the way this person was caught, but that’s only my personal response to the final outcome. We all have our triggers and preferences, so I’m sure other readers might enjoy the ending.

I listened to the audio version of this book and enjoyed the reading by two narrators very much.

****

The Thinnest Air on 1st July and is already has almost 1,400 reviews on amazon.com and 104 on amazon UK.

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****

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#TuesdayBookBlog ‘Elizabeth is Missing’ by Emma Healey #Amreading #Bookreviews

Today I’m reviewing Elizabeth is Missing by Emma Healey.

Blurb

In this darkly riveting debut novel—a sophisticated psychological mystery that is also an heartbreakingly honest meditation on memory, identity, and aging—an elderly woman descending into dementia embarks on a desperate quest to find the best friend she believes has disappeared, and her search for the truth will go back decades and have shattering consequences.

Maud, an aging grandmother, is slowly losing her memory—and her grip on everyday life. Yet she refuses to forget her best friend Elizabeth, whom she is convinced is missing and in terrible danger.

But no one will listen to Maud—not her frustrated daughter, Helen, not her caretakers, not the police, and especially not Elizabeth’s mercurial son, Peter. Armed with handwritten notes she leaves for herself and an overwhelming feeling that Elizabeth needs her help, Maud resolves to discover the truth and save her beloved friend.

This singular obsession forms a cornerstone of Maud’s rapidly dissolving present. But the clues she discovers seem only to lead her deeper into her past, to another unsolved disappearance: her sister, Sukey, who vanished shortly after World War II.

As vivid memories of a tragedy that occurred more fifty years ago come flooding back, Maud discovers new momentum in her search for her friend. Could the mystery of Sukey’s disappearance hold the key to finding Elizabeth?

****

My Review

I’d heard a great deal about ‘Elizabeth is Missing’, and I had been meaning to read it for a long time, as I knew it was about an elderly lady who suffered dementia. It’s a subject which interests me personally and I was intrigued about how the author approached this illness in a novel.

I was not disappointed in this poignant, yet humorous novel, which deals with memory, identity and aging.

The narrator, Maud, is 82 and she is suffering from dementia. Maud is moving in with her daughter, Helen, and her granddaughter, whom she often forgets, however her long-term memory is vivid albeit sketchy.

Maud is obsessed with finding her friend and neighbour, Elizabeth, whom she insists is missing. Her obsessive search, including trips to the police station, are some of the most humorous parts of the novel.

However, her confused mind is also still searching for a sister who disappeared when she was a teenager, in 1946. Past and present are entwined in the narration as we see events from her confused point of view.

I enjoyed the first part very much, however the second half dragged for me, as I anxiously waited for the plot to move forward, which didn’t happen until the last two chapters, where the mystery is unveiled.

I enjoyed the originality of the novel and Maud’s first person narration. Many unreliable narrators in contemporary novels are manipulative or downright wicked, but Maud’s confused voice is honest, believable, humourous and heartbreaking.

Readers can expect a slow burn mystery told from the unique perspective of an endearing and unwittingly humorous, main character who is suffering from dementia.

****

Elizabeth is Missing is a very special novel. It is Emma Healey’s debut and was named best first novel at the Costa Book Awards 2015. Maud was was inspired by the author’s grandmothers. 
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****

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#TuesdayBookBlog ‘Then She Ran’ by Charlie Gallagher #Amreading #Bookreviews #Heist #Thriller

Today I’m reviewing Then She Ran by Charlie Gallagher.

THEN SHE RAN an absolutely gripping crime thriller with a massive twist by [GALLAGHER, CHARLIE]

Blurb

On a lazy Sunday morning, Jenny Harris is shaken awake by her panic-stricken boyfriend, Joseph. Their baby daughter lies asleep on her chest. ‘We’ve got to go!’ Joseph screams.

In their hotel room, Jenny hurriedly wraps her tiny baby up. All their belongings are left behind. There’s no time. Joseph’s panic is contagious.

Jenny sprints with her family from the hotel. And it’s clear that they are being chased. Their pursuers are indiscriminate and they are deadly.

Her boyfriend falls, caught up in the carnage, but he manages to give her one last message: ‘RUN!’

****

My Review

I came across this novel by chance on Amazon. I looked inside because of the blurb and downloaded it after the first paragraph. In fact, it gripped me from the very first line: ‘Jenny, honey, we’ve got to go now!’

From then on Jenny, Joseph and their baby are on the run first from ruthless killers and then from the police. They are forced to split up and there follow four acion-packed days on the run for Jenny, Joseph and their four-month old baby.

Jenny has no idea who wants to kill her or why. Her several escapes and near death experiences are realistic and thrilling.

On the other hand we will be following the police investigation, which in spite of some important blunders, is meticulously and realistically carried out.

I enjoyed the insight to police procedure and to the points where it crossed personal boundaries, and the people involved in the crimes became of real personal interest to the investigators, especially PI George Elms, a complex, clever man, who makes up for his errors (he’s only human) with dedication and resourcefulness.

The characters were fully fleshed to the point that I could see them, understand how they felt and sympathise with their actions.

The plot was perfect. Two separate crimes, both seemingly unrelated and inexplicable, gradually merge and everything starts making sense.

I enjoy reading realistic, cleverly plotted crime stories, like Then She Ran, where all the threads are plausibly and cleverly tied up at the end.

It’s a bit like a happy ever after romance, although there is no romance in this novel, and yet there is a great deal of love, real, unrequited, misdirected and tragic.

I would definitely recommend Charlie Gallagher’s books to lovers of thrilling, procedural, crime fiction.

He knows what he’s writing about, because he’s been working with UK police force, and his first hand knowledge and understanding of police procedure and human nature come across in this novel.

Especially for readers who love well-plotted and exciting and realistic police procedural fiction.

 I will definitely be reading more novels by this author.

THE LANGTHORNE SERIES box set of three gripping crime thrillers by [GALLAGHER, CHARLIE]

More books in the series I look forward to reading.

****

Then She Ran was published in April 2018 and it already has almost 100 reviews 4.3 average on Amazon UK and it’s currently Number 1 Bestseller on Amazon.com for Heist Thrillers. Great detective fiction. Hours of excitement and entertainment guaranteed, and you can buy it for well under the price of a coffee!

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****

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#TuesdayBookBlog ‘White Lies’ by Lucy Dawson #Amreading #Bookreviews #PsychologicalThriller

Today I’m reviewing White Lies by Lucy Dawson.

Blurb

Alexandra Inglis is a respected family doctor, trusted by her patients to keep their most intimate secrets. And if sometimes the boundaries between duty and desire blur… well, she’s only human.

But when Alex oversteps a line with Jonathan, one of her patients, she knows she’s gone too far. Jonathan is obsessive, and to get what he wants he will tear Alex’s world apart – threatening not only her career but her marriage and family too.

Soon Alex finds she’s capable of doing almost anything to keep hold of her perfect life, as it begins to spin dangerously out of her control…

****

My Review

I picked up this novel for the reasons I always do, the blurb intrigued me and then the first few ‘look inside’ pages gripped me immediately.

 A ‘girls’ weekend in Ibiza and a one-night stand threaten to ruin Alex’s career as a doctor, her happy marriage and her two daughters’ stability.

But was it a one-night stand? Did she have a happy marriage? Who is telling the truth? Who is lying and why?

The story is narrated from several first-person viewpoints, which I love, although it’s not an easy feat for an author, but Lucy Dawson does it brilliantly.

The reader is able to piece the story together from the various first person narrations by the main players; the wife, the husband, the wife’s colleague, the young lover and the lover’s girlfriend. The problem is, some of them lie, or simply jump to the wrong conclusions, or only tell partial truths…

The role of social media and media coverage as instigators of gossip, exaggeration, half-truths and lies, in order to sell more, become famous, or simple get more views on their profiles is frighteningly realistic.

The plot is well constructed and gradually unravelled to the shocking and unexpected ending in which everything in Alex’s professional and domestic life seems to return to normal, but can anything ever be the same again?

There were many twists along the way, but the most surprising were the two last twists on the final pages. Terrifying, but brilliantly contrived!

White Lies is Especially for lovers of domestic thrillers with twisted and shocking endings.

I will definitely be looking out for more psychological thrillers by Lucy Dawson. I’ve just downloaded The Daughter, published in January.

****

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****

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#TuesdayBookBlog ‘The Last Girl’ by Nick Twist #Amreading #Bookreviews

Today I’m reviewing The Last Girl by Nick Twist.

The Last Girl: A gripping psychological thriller with a killer twist by [Twist, Nick]

Blurb

After surviving a plane crash, June West surrenders to a shallow existence of a life without memories–without purpose. She is stuck in a hospital where she is taken care of and told what to do with the rest of her life. But how come she has no relatives? No family, children or friends? Hell, she isn’t even sure her name is June West.

Slowly, her grasp on the world starts slipping. She hears baby cries every night. She eavesdrops the nurses talk about the last girl. Then she receives a note from under the door: you have twenty four hours to save your daughter or they will kill her.

****

My Review

I picked up this novel because of the blurb, and although I’ve included it here, believe me, nothing is what it seems in this novel. The blurb is intriguing enough to attract the reader, but if you think it’s about a woman who has been in a plane crash and is trying to save her daughter from ruthless kidnappers, you are wrong, or maybe not…

The Last Girl is a completely different type of psychological thriller, mainly because it really is a psychological thriller in which the author plays with the readers and the characters’ minds at every twist and turn.

I felt enticed, manipulated, lied to, confused and enthralled, all at the same time!

The Last Girl is, at times, like a rollercoaster, which seems to have derailed, yet continues on its imaginary rails without a destination, but nothing appears by chance, every single scene and character leads to the final culmination, when it all makes sense. What a ride of a novel!

The Last Girl is an innovative, daring and creative novel. It’s like no other psychological thriller I have read. It’s exciting, surprising, ingenious, cleverly plotted, and well written. Once I started reading, I couldn’t put it down. I read it over two days, because I have other things to do, such as a job and a family!

However, like the main character, The Last Girl isn’t perfect, neither is it an easy read. It is confusing, infuriating and distressing at times, but It’s good points by far outweigh these aspects.

It pushes the boundaries of fact, fiction and fantasy in literature and raises interesting theories as some of the characters discuss  the role of literature in our lives and our need to write, rewrite and share our stories.

Especially for readers who love psychological thrillers and don’t mind being confused, surprised, shocked, and mesmerised.

I will definitely be looking out for more thrillers by Nick Twist because he has a unique and compelling way of telling stories.

I can’t wait for his next novel to be published.

Nick Twist

****

The Last Girl was published in March and is already an Amazon.com Bestseller and you can buy it for well under the price of coffee.

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****

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#TuesdayBookBlog ‘The Last Necromancer’ by C. J. Archer #Audible #Amreading #Bookreviews

Today I’m reviewing The Last Necromancer by C. J. Archer, which is Book 1 of the The Ministry Of Curiosities.

It’s a historical novel set in Victorian London, but it’s more than that, as you’ll find out in my review.

Don’t you love the covers?

I love writing and reading historical fiction.

I’m always on the lookout for novels set in Victorian times. Recently I discovered a ten book series with the following blurb:

 A waif, her abductors and a twist you won’t see coming.

For five years, Charlotte (Charlie) Holloway has lived as a boy in the slums. But when one theft too many gets her arrested, her only means of escape lies with a dead man. Charlie hasn’t raised a spirit since she first discovered she could do so five years ago. That time, her father banished her. This time, she brings even more trouble upon herself.

People are now hunting Charlie all over London, but only one man succeeds in capturing her. 

Lincoln Fitzroy is the mysterious head of a secret organization on the trail of a madman who needs a necromancer to control his newly “made” creatures. There was only one known necromancer in the world – Charlotte – but now there appears to be two. Lincoln captures the willful Charlie in the hopes the boy will lead him to Charlotte. But what happens when he discovers the boy is in fact the young woman he’s been searching for all along? And will she agree to work for the man who held her against her will, and for an organization she doesn’t trust? 

Because Lincoln and his ministry might be just as dangerous as the madman they’re hunting.

****

I have recently read many intense family dramas and contemporary thrillers, most psychological, such as The Woman at the Window, Us, The Husband, Our House, The Good Girl, My Husband the Stranger, The Cellar, I Am Watching You, Silent Child, and A Stranger in the House, among others, so I felt I needed a break from the intensity. I was looking for a lighter read, and I found one, quite by chance!

The blurb of The Last Necromancer sounded interesting, but I must admit that the ten-book series put me off.

Do I have time to read a series of ten books?

Do I have the patience to read ten books by the same author?

I really didn’t think so, but I took a chance and downloaded book one to my kindle because it was free. I think this is a great idea to entice readers to try a new author, especially in such a long series. I then bought the audiobook for the reduced price of about $4 and listened to it in the space of two evenings (it was about eight hours long), and loved it! I’ll probably even read the following books in the series!

Read on for my review.

My Review

The Last Necromancer is a wonderful escapist read.

There’s a bit of everything I enjoy. It’s historical, set in the  Victorian era, there’s action, mystery, suspense and a hint of romance.

The lead character is Charlie, an 18-year-old girl who has been living on the streets of London disguised as a boy for the last 5 years. She also has special powers (she can summon and speak to the dead) so she is being sought by unscrupulous villains. Charlie is a wonderful character. She’s clever, tough, resourceful, street-wise, caring, and sensitive.

The male lead, Lincoln Fitzroy is enigmatic and apparently heartless, and the rest of the ‘real’ villains, his enemies, are cruel and ruthless.

There are many references to other Victorian authors such as Mary Shelly and Conan Doyle. The novel includes secret societies, plots against the Queen, some supernatural, gothic elements, such as Charlie’s paranormal abilities, and some fantasy elements, such as Frankenstein-like monsters and other characters with special powers and knowledge.   

The Last Necromancer is a well written and entertaining read, with plot twists, action, mystery, suspense and a slow burn, romance, which promises to bloom in future installments. 

It is especially for lovers of the Victorian era, fantasy, paranormal, and entertaining fiction.

There are plenty of reasons why I’m looking forward to reading the following books in the series, as an antidote to the draining intensity of contemporary psychological and literary fiction, and the occasionally tedious reality of daily life.

In fact I’ve just downloaded the box set which includes the first three books in the series on Audible.

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****

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