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The Blind By A.F. Brady

The Blind‘The Blind’ is A.F. Brady’s debut novel.

Every morning, psychiatrist Sam James gets up at six forty-five. She has a shower, drinks a cup of coffee, then puts on her make-up. She ignores the empty bottles piling up by her door. On this particular morning, Sam is informed of a new patient’s arrival at Manhattan’s most notorious institution. Reputed to be deranged and dangerous, Richard is just the kind of impossible case Sam has built her reputation on. She is certain that she is the right doctor to treat such a difficult patient. But then Sam meets Richard. And Richard seems totally sane. Let the mind games begin.
The Blind is the first book by A.F. Brady and it’s a gripping story that made for a fascinating story.

Solely written in the first person, we meet psychologist, Sam. She works in a mental institution where she tries to get people to face their demons and struggles, but it seems that she has far more than she lets on. On the outside, she’s polished to perfection, reliable in her work but inside, she’s battling a drink addiction, an abusive boyfriend and a new patient that refuses to speak.

As she tries to get the new patient, Richard to face his problems, his issues are making her address her own and realise that she needs to get her life in order.

Sam, is an interesting character, she’s complicated, impulsive, troubled and addicted to troubled people. She’s also apologetic for them and constantly making excuses for their behaviour. Her fascination with Richard is really fascinating reading as she tries to piece together his life.

This story made for compulsive reading that really held my attention. Riddled with tension and suspense, this atmospheric book is cleverly written with a complex lead and an even darker plot, ‘The Blind’, is a chillingly good book that will make you look at people in a different light.

You can buy The Blind from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

One Of Us Is Lying By Karen M. McManus

One Of Us Is Lying ‘One Of Us Is Lying’ is the latest book by Karen M. McManus.

Five students go to detention. Only four leave alive. Yale hopeful Bronwyn has never publicly broken a rule. Sports star Cooper only knows what he’s doing in the baseball diamond. Bad body Nate is one misstep away from a life of crime. Prom queen Addy is holding together the cracks in her perfect life. And outsider Simon, creator of the notorious gossip app at Bayview High, won’t ever talk about any of them again. He dies 24 hours before he could post their deepest secrets online. Investigators conclude it’s no accident. All of them are suspects. Everyone has secrets, right? What really matters is how far you’ll go to protect them.

This is Karen’s debut book and it’s an addictive read filled with secrecy, bitchiness and lies.

The story starts just as the five students all arrive for detention and then is seen through the four remaining narratives as they all become the suspects in the investigation when Simon, the fifth student suddenly dies in suspicious circumstances.

The four students all come from completely different sides of track and in a different situation, they may never have forged friendships. But, in the surreal situation that they are experiencing, they are all there for each other, trying to piece together the mystery of Simon’s death.

Simon, who tragically died was a bit of hated character, he was an antagonistic boy, who liked to spread humours and make people uncomfortable with the creation of his gossip app ‘About That’, which shared tales of speculation and lies. Bronwyn is a serious and studious girl who finds herself attracted to social outcast, Nate, a bad boy that trouble seems to follow. Whilst Addy is the prom queen of the high school, with the perfect boyfriend and star of baseball team. But her life is far from perfect with her boyfriend’s controlling ways and her mothers pressuring ways of wanting to settle down. Finally Cooper, is the boy that the girls want and the boys admire.

All four of the students, had something to hide, that they didn’t want other people to know, but Simon knew more than he let on and that’s why they are all suspects in the case. As the story progresses, their secrets are revealed and they all have motives to kill Simon.

This book is great, it’s similar to ‘The Breakfast Club’ which is one of my all time favourite films, which is also set in detention and has similar characters. But that’s were the similarities end, as with the normal everyday issues that young adults have to face, there is the added fear of being a suspect of murder.

Cleverly written, this dark story is seen through the narratives of the characters and this gives quite vivid insights into each of their minds and all the problems they face.

Riddled with twists and turns, this suspenseful story is engaging from the start. With relatable characters and situations, this fantastic murder mystery is a must read.

You can buy One Of Us Is Lying from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

99 Red Balloons By Elisabeth Carpenter

99 Red Balloons’99 Red Balloons’ is the first book by Elisabeth Carpenter.

When eight-year-old Grace goes missing from a sweetshop on the way home from school, her mother Emma is plunged into a nightmare. Her family rallies around, but as the police hunt begins, cracks begin to emerge. What are the secret emails sent between Emma’s husband and her sister? Why does her mother take so long to join the search? And is Emma really as innocent as she seems? Meanwhile, ageing widow Maggie Taylor sees Grace’s picture in the newspaper. It’s a photograph that jolts her from the pain of her existence into a spiralling obsession with another girl – the first girl who disappeared.

’99 Red Balloons’ is Elisabeth’s debut novel and it was a book that consumed my attention one afternoon.

The story is about every parents nightmare, when their child is suddenly snatched from their lives, never to be returned and the parents are then to spend the rest of their days, wondering and hoping that their child will return to their lives, safe and sound.

Right from the start in this atmospheric book, we are drawn into the innocent world of a little girl, when a strange man approaches her. She is puzzled and scared of this man and has always been warned against strangers. But once he assures her that he’s acting on behalf of her mother, she trusts and warms to this stranger, who she naively thinks that her safety is his only concern.

The story flows between three main characters, the little girl who has been kidnapped. Stephanie, who’s little niece Grace is taken one day and follows her as the family deal with being the subject of the police’s investigation as well as they count every passing minute as they fear that Grace maybe in danger. The story also follows an older woman called Maggie, who’s granddaughter disappeared over twenty years ago, which resulted in her own daughter, Sarah taking her life. Maggie is convinced that the recent kidnapping has a lot of similarities with Zoe’s disappearance and we see this elderly woman become obsessed with the case and begin her own investigation.

The story is really cleverly and realistically written, that it feels like your own child has been taken, as the plot really explores the emotions of the nightmare and tensions that it can have on a family. The story flows quickly between the characters, each chapter flowing seamlessly into each one and leaves the reader gasping at each turn.

The inclusion of Maggie’s perspective was also really smart. The story is primarily seen through the eyes of younger characters, so Maggie’s narrative was interesting. She’s old, frail and has nearly given up on life but the recent disappearance has given her a new sense, driving her on to finally put her own ghosts to rest. There was also a deep sense of poignancy in the chapters with the child, as before your eyes, you see the child stripped of their innocence and having to face the harsh reality ahead.

Riddled with suspense, dodgy characters and situations that makes everyone a suspect, this book was impossible to put down.

If you’re looking for an atmospheric and intelligent thriller that pulls you centre stage into every parents nightmare when a child goes missing, then ’99 Red Balloons’ is a must read for you.

You can buy 99 Red Balloons from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

The Night Visitor By Lucy Atkins

The Night Visitor‘The Night Visitor’ is the latest book by Lucy Atkins.

Professor Olivia Sweetman has worked hard to achieve the life she loves, with a high-flying career as a TV presenter and historian, three children and a talented husband. But as she stands before a crowd at the launch of her new bestseller she can barely pretend to smile. Her life has spiralled into deceit and if the truth comes out, she will lose everything.

Only one person knows what Olivia has done. Vivian Tester is the socially awkward sixty-year-old housekeeper of a Sussex manor who found the Victorian diary on which Olivia’s book is based. She has now become Olivia’s unofficial research assistant. And Vivian has secrets of her own.

‘The Night Visitor’ is a gripping and sinister tale, that held me in its clutches over the last couple of nights as I delved into the twisted and complicated relationship of Olivia Sweethorn and Vivian Tester.

The story is written in a dual narrative seen from the perspective of both women in alternating chapters, travelling swiftly and neatly from past to present tense, bringing the reader up to speed about their status.

Olivia is a beloved historian who longs to share the compelling story of Annabel Burley, a renowned woman in British medicine and with the help of Vivian, a researcher the pair of them write a successful bestseller. But, just as the book hits the shelves, Olivia begins to realise that Vivian isn’t quite the person she was led to believe and regrets the woman’s involvement in the creation of the book.

The two women are polar opposites of each other, which makes their relationship and the drama surrounding them so intense and chilling. Olivia comes from a bustling family, mother of three children and married to fellow writer David, her life is a hive of activity whereas as Vivian has no one, other than her dog, Bertie for company. She leads a lonely life, an only child with no family and she sometimes finds it hard to deal with human relationships.

She’s a simple but guarded woman that I sometimes found myself sympathising with. Where, Olivia shines in all her glory, Vivian prefers to sit back and watch and what she observes certainly makes for haunting reading. As the story develops, secrets are revealed and tragic events occur that effect both women.

Suberbly researched, this book is cleverly and chillingly written. This intense story observes the somewhat twisted relationship between women, a story of obsession and jealously, ‘The Night Visitor’ is a menacing tale riddled with deceit and an intriguing plot line that made for creepily atmospheric reading.

You can buy The Night Visitor from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

The Couple Next Door By Shari Lapena

The Couple Next Door ‘The Couple Next Door’is the latest book by Shari Lapena and was awarded ‘WH Smith Book of the Year 2016’.

Your neighbour told you that she didn’t want your six-month-old daughter at the dinner party. Nothing personal, she just couldn’t stand her crying. Your husband said it would be fine. After all, you only live next door. You’ll have the baby monitor and you’ll take it in turns to go back every half hour. Your daughter was sleeping when you checked on her last. But now, as you race up the stairs in your deathly quiet house, your worst fears are realized. She’s gone. You’ve never had to call the police before. But now they’re in your home, and who knows what they’ll find there.

Last year there was an awful lot of talk about ‘The Couple Next Door’ on social media, people were singing its praises and I was really curious to see what all the hype was about, so when it came next on my TBR pile, I grabbed it with both hands.

The story is about Marcus and Anne, a married couple with a 6 month old baby called Cora. On a rare night out and unable to get a babysitter, they leave Cora in their house next door and bring the baby monitor with them checking on her every half hour. But, it’s on their return that they discover that Cora has been snatched.

The story then follows as the couple become the prime suspects in the case, as the press and police point the finger of blame at them, particularly at them leaving their baby alone. As the story progresses, we delve deeper into the couples lives, the stress of both emotional and financial as parents and adjust to their new lives.

The book is cleverly written in a third person narrative and reads like an observation of both Anne and Marcus. It flows quickly between both of them as they struggle with being in the spotlight and trying to piece together their last moments with Cora. Both are complex characters, both with secrets that they have hidden from each other but as the story flows and the police investigate more, secrets are revealed and more people are convinced that they are involved.

Marcus has always felt inadequate to Anne’s family, they never really approved of him and show their true colours with Cora’s disappearance by making him feel unwanted and unloved whilst Anne struggles with post natal depression, she’s terrified she did something and blocked it out. An interesting addition to the tale is inclusion of the story being seen from the perspective of the detective, giving an insight to the police procedure.

With a fast paced story that keeps the reader on their toes and thoroughly engaged. ‘The Couple Next Door’ is a cunningly written tale, filled with unlikable and occasionally sympathetic characters plus plenty of suspects. Packed with tension, twists and a hell of an ending, this book is must definitely worthy of all the hype!

You can buy The Couple Next Door from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.