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The Wife Upstairs By Rachel Hawkins

The Wife Upstairs‘The Wife Upstairs’ is the latest book by Rachel Hawkins.

When Jane, a broke dog-walker newly arrived in town, meets Eddie Rochester, she can’t believe her luck. Eddie is handsome, rich and lives alone in a beautiful mansion since the tragic death of his beloved wife a year ago. Eddie can give Jane everything she’s always wanted: stability, acceptance, and a picture-perfect life. But what Jane doesn’t know is that Eddie is keeping a secret – a big secret. And when the truth comes out, the consequences are far more deadly than anyone could ever have imagined.

I started reading this book last night and I read it in one sitting, it was just that addictive. The story is dark, compelling with protagonists that kept the story moving at a fast pace.

The story is written in the past and present tense and is seen through the narrative of Jane and Bea. Jane is new to the Mountain Brook area and is settling with her dog walking business. Walking the dogs, she sees the glamorous lives of the women with their rich husbands and designer brands on tap and Jane occasionally helps herself to this lifestyle, so she’s not always looking in. But one day, she meets handsome Eddie Rochester and he takes her breath away offering her a new lifestyle and no shortage of money. But Eddie is the talk of the town, his wife Bea and her best friend disappeared on a boating trip and Eddie has always been a suspect. But Jane is convinced that charismatic Eddie is innocent but there’s something about him that makes her unsettled. The other perspective of the story is from Bea and the moments leading up to accident.

I loved this book, the characters are great, unreliable and this makes for gripping reading. I loved Jane, she’s deceptive with a tough exterior but underneath she’s soft and wanting to fit in and Eddie is the key to her success. Jane has her secrets and an old life that she’s running from.

The story is fast paced injected with unexpected humour and wit that really keeps the reader on their toes. Like Jane, Eddie is also a fascinating character, he’s handsome and charming and it’s obvious he’s a sought after bachelor with all the women in the town lusting after him, but there’s something underneath that charisma that’s unsettling.

A thrilling and dramatic story about murder and ambition, ‘The Wife Upstairs’ is a modern twist on the crime noir filled with unreliable narratives and an unexpected twist that leaves the reader bursting for more.

You can pre-order ‘The Wife Upstairs’ from Amazon and will be available to buy from good bookshops from 29th April 2021.

The Dark Room By Sam Blake

The Dark Room‘The Dark Room’ is the latest book by Sam Blake.

Rachel Lambert leaves London afraid for her personal safety and determined to uncover the truth behind the sudden death of a homeless man with links to a country house hotel called Hare’s Landing. New York-based crime reporter Caroline Kelly’s career is threatened by a lawsuit and she needs some thinking space away from her job. But almost as soon as she arrives, Hare’s Landing begins to reveal its own stories – a 30-year-old missing person’s case and the mysterious death of the hotel’s former owner. As Rachel and Caroline join forces, it becomes clear that their investigations are intertwined – and that there is nothing more dangerous than the truth…

Is there no end to Sam Blake’s talents? When she’s not writing gripping crime thrillers set in rural Ireland, she’s also known as Vanessa O’Loughlin creator of Writing.ie and organiser of the epic Murder One Crime Festival, an annual literary crime festival bringing in some of the world’s finest writers who have their readers gripped with their suspenseful and gory tales.
 
Although I know Sam/Vanessa from attending the events and chatting at events, ‘The Dark Room’ is actually the first book that I’ve read by her.
 
The story starts off with a mysterious person, posting a letter who’s identity and contents of the letter is not revealed. The story then follows on from the perspective Irish natives Caroline and Rachel. Caroline has come to Hare’s Landing Hotel to escape the drama from her job in New York, a successful journalist, her work has come under fire and she’s taking some time to reflect, whilst film location scout Rachel has come to Ireland for a break. After her boyfriend Hunter, was injured in a hit and run and the barge they live on was ruined in a robbery, she’s retreated to Hare’s Landing for some respite but also to try to solve some mysteries about a homeless man called Alfie Bowes that Hunter was working on a documentary with. Both Caroline and Rachel become close friends when they realise there are many mysteries about the hotel.

From the whispered hushes about the former owner called Honoria Smyth who took her own life. The hotel is filled with reminders of the glamorous author and the constant disapproval from the house keeper called Mrs Travers, who dislikes the women’s interest in the history of the opulent surroundings.

The story is riddled with mystery and suspense and as the women delve deeper into the hotel’s history, they begin to see connections to old and new disappearances. The story is set in a small seaside town called Glencurragh and it makes for interesting and insightful reading as the women adjust to being the gossip of the town.

I genuinely loved this story, it’s fast paced, gritty and has so many clever twists riddled throughout that keeps the reader on their toes. Both Caroline and Rachel are great leads, both with a passion for problem solving and curiosity for knowledge and occupied with Rachel’s dog called Jasper, they were a tremendous trio.

A well crafted crime novel combined with small town gossip and a luxurious hotel that’s steeped in history, ‘The Dark Place’ is a chilling and gripping story that’s has menace and suspense dripping from each page in this atmospheric tale.

You can buy ‘The Dark Room’ from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

The Push By Ashley Audrain

The Push‘The Push’ is the debut novel by Ashley Audrain.

The arrival of baby Violet was meant to be the happiest day of my life. But as soon as I held her in my arms I knew something wasn’t right. I had always known that the women in my family aren’t meant to be mothers. My husband Fox says I’m imagining it. He tells me I’m nothing like my own mother, and that Violet is the sweetest child. But she’s different with me. Something feels very wrong.

‘The Push’ is Michael Joseph’s most anticipated book of 2021, a dark and chillingly crafted story about motherhood and love goes wrong.

The story is seen through the narrative of 3 generations of women, Cecelia, Etta and Blythe as they experience motherhood for the first time and they wait for the influx of emotions of love and care and are instead left with nothing. They retreat, they become cold and become completely different to the person they were before the babies.

The story is primarily seen through the narrative of Blythe who’s own mother had struggled with motherhood and Blythe is determined to be the perfect mother when her own baby is born. But her daughter Violet is the total opposite to what she expected with a vicious, cold and nasty streak that makes Blythe fearful of her and guilty and frustrated that she’s unable to have a close relationship with her daughter. When, when Blythe has a son, she is overjoyed at the second chance with motherhood and embrace it wholeheartedly, aware that in the background, Violet is watching closely.

‘The Push’ is a chilling and an uncomfortable read. It’s delves deeply into motherhood and the impact of the difficult children and the fear that something bad is going to happen. Throughout the book, it’s riddled with tension and unease as Violet connects with her father and grandparents but constantly pushes Blythe making her doubt her own sanity as well as capability as a mother. Ashley has created a compelling book with intriguing and unsettling characters that made it impossible to put down. The book also slightly reminded me of ‘Good Me, Bad Me’ by Ali Land, which is another fantastic debut. The perspectives of the different mothers throughout the years was a clever addition to the story and kept the reader on their toes, as you piecing the story together.

A book that delves into the insecurities and expectations of motherhood with an unravelling protagonist that makes for sympathetic and gripping reading, ‘The Push’ is a stunning debut that is well worthy of the hype and publicity behind it and was also my first read book of 2021.

You can buy ‘The Push’ from Amazon and other good bookshops.

Sleepless By Louise Mumford

Sleepless”Sleepless’ is the latest book by Louise Mumford.

Thea is an insomniac; she hasn’t slept more than three hours a night for years. So when an ad for a sleep trial that promises to change her life pops up on her phone, Thea knows this is her last chance at finding any kind of normal life. Soon Thea’s sleeping for longer than she has in a decade, and awakes feeling transformed. So much so that at first she’s willing to overlook the oddities of the trial – the lack of any phone signal; the way she can’t leave her bedroom without permission; the fact that all her personal possessions are locked away, even her shoes. But it soon becomes clear that the trial doesn’t just want to help Thea sleep. It wants to control her sleep.

‘Sleepless’ is an unsettling story that is cleverly crafted to keep the reader on their toes.

The story is seen mostly through the narrative of Thea, who hasn’t had a proper night’s sleep in years. Admitting defeat and after seeing the clinic advertised a number of times, Thea signs herself up to Morpheus, which guarantees her a cure for her sleep deprivation. The clinic is on an remote island and even though her mother was convinced she’s joining a cult, Thea wonders if her mother is correct when her new friend called Rosie is brutally attacked and Thea finds herself the subject of unwanted attention with her sleep issues.

Right from the offset, this book is an uncomfortable read, from the claustrophobic island to the secretive testing, it’s obvious that something sinister is happening to the participants of the clinic but as Thea delves into the clinic’s work, it brings up some nasty surprises.

The story is vividly written and descriptive from the description of the island, the metal discs that are stuck to the participants head and are unable to be removed to the vivid dreams the keep the people awake.

Thea is an interesting lead as she is determined to find out what’s really happening at the clinic and seems to be able to thrive on little or no sleep. Other elements from the story are seen from the perspective of her mother Vivian. I loved Vivian with her viewpoints and outspoken behaviour and determination to save her daughter.

With a gripping and unsettling plot line that hooks the reader in, ‘Sleepless’ is a chilling thriller with suspicious characters that will leave the reader unable to sleep until they reach the final page.

You can buy ‘Sleepless’ from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

The Therapist By B.A. Paris

The Therapist‘The Therapist’ is the latest book by Sunday times bestselling author B.A. Paris.

When Alice and Leo move into a newly renovated house in The Circle, a gated community of exclusive houses, it is everything they’ve dreamed of. But appearances can be deceptive. As Alice is getting to know her neighbours, she discovers a devastating, grisly secret about her new home, and begins to feel a strong connection with Nina, the therapist who lived there before. Alice becomes obsessed with trying to piece together what happened two years before. But no one wants to talk about it. Her neighbours are keeping secrets and things are not as perfect as they seem.

B.A. Paris has rapidly become one of my favourite authors after reading her debut novel called ‘Behind Closed Doors’/

It’s now the norm for me to read her books in one sitting and ‘The Therapist’ was no different. Although, I did stupidly start the book before bed one night, intending to read only a chapter or 2 but ended reading 24 instead and unable to put it down the following day!

The story is seen through the narrative of Alice, who’s just moved into her new house with her boyfriend Leo. After months of only seeing each other at the weekends, they decided to give their relationship a proper go with buying a house together. Having left the comfort of her country cottage, Alice moves into the private, gated community, home to professional couples and families. It’s at her house warming party that she meets her neighbours and is surprised at their coolness towards her. But Alice is determined to male friends and is horrified to discover that one day, a man turns up telling her that a woman called Nina was brutally murdered in the house.

Alice is distraught that Leo had kept this information from her and so begins the breakdown of their relationship and Alice’s fascination into Nina’s death and her own quest into finding out who really killed Nina.

The story is filled with paranoia and suspense as Alice begins to discover flaws in Nina and in her new friends with the secrets that they keep. As the story develops, it’s difficult to sometimes tell the difference between what’s real and what’s not as Alice is a bit of an unreliable narrator at times and other people including Leo are seen as a potential threat.

I loved this story, it’s well written and paced with short and snappy chapters that really engage the reader. I speak from experience! Alice is a great protagonist, she’s complex and finds a connection in Nina, as she shares the same name as Alice’s sister who is also dead and hopes that with finding Nina’s killer, will give her some peace even if that means making some enemies along the way.

The story is not only seen from Alice’s perspective but there is also an unknown therapist meeting their patients for the first time.

Atmospheric and filled with paranoia and suspense throughout, ‘The Therapist’ is a gripping guessing game with unsettling moments and suspicious characters that keeps the reader on their and is another terrific roller coaster of a story from B.A. Paris.

You can pre-order ‘The Therapist’ from Amazon and will be available to buy from good bookshops from 7th January 2021.