I’ve read a few thrillers/suspense novels recently as a foil to my YA romantic fantasy edits (The Solitary King comes out 31 Jan!!), so I thought I’d round up all of my reviews into one post. After all, if you’re a thriller fan you’d probably rather read one post about three (very different) books to see which sounds like your cup of tea, than three separate review posts, right?
Great, let’s go.
The Cottage by Lisa Stone – 3.5 stars
Jan needs a fresh start, she’s just lost her job and split from her boyfriend, so when she sees an ad looking for someone to house sit a remote cottage and look after the owner’s dog while she’s working abroad, Jan jumps at the chance. But before long, strange noises start to disturb her at night, and when someone dismantles the fence she puts up to stop foxes getting into the garden, she knows it can’t be an animal.
The Cottage sucked me in with the creepy cover and blurb, but it didn’t turn out to be as dark and thrilling as I’d hoped. It was definitely tense and I wanted to know what was really going on, but it was one of those stories where there’s a reasonable explanation for everything, and I had gone in wanting something a bit darker.
I guessed a few of the plot twists (occupational hazard of being a true crime obsessive), but some of them were genuine surprises and the story did keep me reading just to see what would happen in the end.
I know the author also writes non-fiction/true crime books and this did read almost like a memoir, I could believe everything that was happening was possible, which did make it all the more fascinating.
I’d recommend it if you’re looking for an easy, lighter read with a really interesting premise and a few shock twists, but it won’t keep you awake at night.
The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell – 4.5 stars
Libby just turned twenty-five and inherited a multi-million pound property, but more importantly she’s just discovered the truth – her parents were found dead in very suspicious circumstances, and she is the baby that was found happy and healthy in the cot while three bodies lay on the kitchen floor. Desperate to know what happened, she finds the journalist who wrote a recent article about the unsolved murders and together they dig into a history that only becomes more twisted and shocking the closer they get to the truth.
The Family Upstairs is told from three points of view, Libby and Lucy in the here and now, and Henry describing the events that led up to the three bodies being found in the house he shared with his sister (the aforementioned Lucy), their parents, and another family who came to stay and never left.
I loved the slow build up of tension in this book, I couldn’t take my eyes of Henry’s chapters as the happy family life he enjoyed as a child became increasingly strange and frightening, under the oppressive control of David Thomsen, a house guest who gradually took control over the entire household.
Between unreliable narrators and the slow, drip feed of information building the suspense throughout the book, I was absolutely glued to my seat, especially for the final few chapters. I was a little bit disappointed by the conclusion, but now there’s a sequel coming this summer, The Family Remains (which can apparently be read as standalone) and I’m looking forward to seeing what happens next.
Without giving too much away, I highly recommend this book if you love true crime, particularly podcasts and documentaries about cults.
The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley – 5 stars
Seven friends go to a remote Scottish hunting lodge for New Year, and only six of them survive. Every single one of them is hiding something, including the staff, but who is the body at the bottom of the waterfall, and how did they end up dead?
Told over three days and five POVs, The Hunting Party is a fast-paced whodunit (and who-was-it-done-to) that kept me guessing until the very last page. Every character was a possible victim and a potential killer, they were all full-formed and believably complex (read: awful) people.
I flew through the last hundred pages, I desperately needed to know who had been killed and why, even more so than who had done it. Some of the red herrings Foley threw out to distract us and keep us off the right trail were so good, I did spot one of the reveals from early on, but I genuinely couldn’t guess the full truth until it was written on the page.
This is a definite five star read for me, and I’ll be snapping up all of Foley’s other domestic thrillers. I recommend this book to absolutely everyone who likes a good, twisty thriller, you won’t be able to see it coming, I can guarantee it!
There you go, I hope you liked the sound of one or all of these. I actually borrowed them from the library, and now I’ve got C.L. Taylor’s Strangers waiting for me when I finish my edits. Back to the edit cave, Batgirl!