Category Archives: Psychological thriller

The Family Game, Catherine Steadman – Book Review

Well this book was a lot of fun! A brilliant cat-and-mouse thriller which had me racing through the pages. I hadn’t come across this author before but something about this latest release had me intrigued – and it turns out she’s a woman of many talents, as she’s an actress on Downton Abbey too! As it happens I don’t watch that show – but I’ll definitely be reading her books from now on.

When author Harry meets wealthy bachelor Edward, it almost feels too good to be true. The two quickly become a couple and decide to tie the knot – but there’s one more thing they have to deal with first, the in-laws. Not just any in-laws – Edward is the descendent of one of America’s most rich and powerful families. And they like to play games.

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The Night Shift, Alex Finlay – Book Review

I flew through this, my second read from Alex Finlay and I think it was even better than Every Last Fear. There’s something incredibly immersive about this author’s writing and the world. Starting out on New Year’s Eve 1999 at a Blockbuster and moving through to present day, Finlay immerses the reader into small-town America. A place where serial murders are rare but, when they do they can have repercussions for generations.

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Filed under Book Reviews, Crime, Drama, Mystery, Psychological thriller

The Paris Apartment, Lucy Foley – Book Review

Lucy Foley has quickly carved a name for herself and gained a following with her twisty-turny locked-room mysteries. This is her third novel, and it doesn’t disappoint. It’s her usual compulsively readable style this time in a glamorous new location.

Jess is in need of a break. She thinks that what she’s getting when she travels to Paris to stay at her half-brother Ben’s apartment. But when she arrives, Ben is nowhere to be seen, and she’s met instead with an eclectic cast of characters who all seem to be hiding something.

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Mirrorland, Carole Johnstone – Book Review

A grand old Scottish house, estranged mirror twins, secrets and a glowing review quote from Stephen King meant this novel caught my eye straight away. My galley request actually didn’t get approved for around six months, by which point I’d almost forgotten about it and the hype had died down, but I’m so glad I got around to picking this up earlier this year.

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The Turnout, Megan Abbott – Book Review

Well, what a strange little book this turned out to be! I love the idea of psychological thrillers set in the tense pressure cooker atmosphere of ballet school – I read and enjoyed Erin Kelly’s Watch Her Fall earlier this year – so when I saw Megan Abbott was turning her hand to this theme I was excited to see what she had in store.

This book is about the Durant Ballet School, owned and run by sisters Dara and Marie and Dara’s husband (who is also their sort of adoptive brother), Charlie. And if you think there’s something about that family dynamic that sounds a little off, you’d be completely right.

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False Witness, Karin Slaughter – Book Review

The description for this book doesn’t give much away, but it’s worth stating from the offset that this is a truly dark tale full of triggers for sexual abuse, paedophillia and drug abuse. It’s tough going at times, and after the first chapter (which, objectively, I have to say is an amazing first chapter with a killer twist) I was unsure I was in the right headspace for it. But I carried on.

And, this book does have a beautiful way of showing that even in the darkest places there can be some humour, hope and love. But it’s no walk in the park.

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Survive The Night, Riley Sager – Book Review

Goodbye reading slump, hello Riley Sager!

For the last few months, for various reasons, my reading (and posting) has completely slipped. I should have realised sooner – all I needed was a true edge-of-your-seat, popcorn thriller to get me racing through the pages again. And this was it.

No, this book isn’t perfect – it’s not deep, it’s exaggerated and unrealistic in places. But what a ride. This is by far the most addictive, unputdownable book I’ve read this year – and for saving me from a reading slump, I have to give it five stars.

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The Maidens, Alex Michaelides – Book Review

After his debut became one of the most popular thrillers of the year in 2019, the pressure was high for this author’s follow-up release. This one follows the thriller with a killer twist format but it’s set in the world of dark academia, weaving literature and Greek mythology against the backdrop of the traditional Cambridge University.

And it worked for me. For the most part. I loved it almost as much as The Silent Patient.

Let’s get something straight: I don’t mind a slow-burn thriller at all. I like it. In this book Michaelides paints a beautiful picture of Cambridge University, and a sinister picture of elite study groups and suspicious professors. Top it off with some mysterious notes littered with Greek mythology and a string of ritualistic murders of young, beautiful girls. It’s a recipe for a deliciously dark thriller.

Mariana is our protagonist, a recently widowed group therapist who finds herself returning to Cambridge University, her alma mater, to help her neice Zoe when Zoe’s friend is found murdered. She thinks she’ll just visit briefly to provide some support, but she soon finds herself drawn into the mystery. There’s more to it than meets the eye. Her friend said some strange things the night before the murder – and she’s part of elite group of girls, the Maidens. They’re a study group with the professor Fosca, and she won’t be the last maiden to die.

This book does have a slow build, with an atmospheric and authentic depiction of college life as Mariana reflects on meeting her husband there years before while she dives deeper into the current mystery. There’s red herrings and twists a-plenty (and even a familiar face making an appearance), as our plucky therapist-turned detective has no idea who to trust.

The ending is what lets it down just a little. We know this author is the king of twists, but this is a little far. I did start to connect the dots near the end and wonder where it might be going, but the ending isn’t something that could be worked out easily and comes a little out of nowhere.

But, I enjoyed the ride. The writing is great, it kept me reading. I liked Mariana as a character and the different themes woven into this story. There’s a lot to enjoy about this neat little thriller, and I’ll be reading whatever this author does next.

I received The Maidens in exchange for an honest review. 4/5.

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Watch Her Fall, Erin Kelly – Book Review

Erin Kelly is one of those authors I’ve come to rely on for high-quality psychological thrillers, and I’m happy to say that this release is up there with the best of them. In Watch Her Fall, the author draws us into the cut-throat world of ballet, in a story pitched as Black Swan meets Killing Eve. A pretty irresistible combination, right?

The story opens with Ava, 30-year-old ballerina at the pinnacle of her career, who has just landed the coveted main role in Swan Lake at her father’s elite ballet school, London Russian Ballet. We meet Ava in the lead-up to opening night, and the atmosphere is tense from the outset.

“The spotlight was a shining cage, and it kept you safe or kept you lonely, depending on how you chose to look at it.”

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You Love Me, Caroline Kepnes – Book Review

Our third dalliance with Joe Goldberg has just hit the shelves, and it’s peppered with his trademark dark cynicism, obsessive internal monologues and unique way of looking at the world.

This time, he’s a few years older and wiser, he’s spent time in prison following his exploits with his ex Love and the Quinn family, and he’s just looking for the quiet life. He moves to a small town on the coast and starts volunteering at the local library. But drama and obsession follow Joe, and it’s not long before there’s a new lady in his life.

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Filed under Book Reviews, Contemporary, Psychological thriller