Three Thrillers to Get Your Blood Pumping This January

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!

Lyndsey

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Review: The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware

I’d heard The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware mentioned a few times before it popped up as the Audible Daily Deal, and it actually turned out my Mum read it on holiday last year! I love a good thriller/mystery so I downloaded it straight away for when I’d finished The Raven King and needed to dive straight into something easy-listening to stave off the book hangover. It definitely did the trick.

TL;DR Lo Blacklock is a travel journalist on a private, luxury cruise who thinks she witnesses a murder. The only problem is, cabin 10 was always supposed to be empty, and no one else saw the woman before she vanished. Is Lo losing her mind, or is something more sinister going on in the Fjords?

The Woman in Cabin 10 Ruth Ware

3.5 stars

As a big cruise fan I couldn’t wait to listen to this audio book and imagine myself on board the ship, cruising the Norwegian Fjords with the characters. I haven’t done a Fjords cruise yet, but my Mum’s been a few times and I’ve seen the photos, so I could picture the setting no problem. The ship was a little more difficult, as it’s only a ten cabin mini cruise ship, like a large yacht really, but with the same finery inside, just on a smaller scale. I don’t get claustrophobic on cruises, but I can imagine feeling really uncomfortable and panicky on a ship that small with the same ten other people every day, and that’s before the events of the story take place!

The overall feel of the story is very Agatha Christie – a small number of people in a remote location with nowhere to go and no escape from the murderer in their midst. Think And Then There Were None and Murder on the Orient Express. There are also elements of The Girl on the Train, Lo is quite a heavy drinker to begin with and it’s her drinking that leads her to question what she saw and whether she imagined or dreamed the whole thing. It’s well paced and tense throughout, and there are a couple of really surprising twists that I didn’t see coming!

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At the beginning of the story, Lo’s flat is burgled while she’s sleeping, and when she gets up to see what’s going on the burglar slams the bedroom door in her face and locks her in. This encounter is pretty terrifying, especially for a woman who often sleeps alone when my husband is away with work (luckily we have a dog so I live in hope she’d scare off any potential attackers). I wanted the burglary at the beginning to have deeper implications than it did, but ultimately it served to put Lo on edge from the very beginning, seeing danger and threats everywhere and explaining some of her reactions later.

In addition, Lo suffers from anxiety and takes medication, which has no bearing on her state of mind at the time of the incident, but is used against her by some of the other characters when they find out. I think this is quite a good representation of the stigma mental health issues can suffer, as well as showing that her mental illness doesn’t impact on the plot or make her an unreliable narrator.

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The Woman in Cabin 10 is a pretty easy read, perfect for holiday reading and anyone who likes a good murder mystery a la Christie and Hawkins. Lo isn’t always a very likeable character, she’s quite standoffish and rude, and coupled with her heavy drinking she did remind me of Rachel from The Girl on the Train. Ultimately though, I did find myself rooting for her, as I wanted to know what was really going on onboard the cruise ship and whether she was going to be the next victim, or if it was all an elaborate hoax.

I gave the book 3.5 stars, because I did enjoy it and got through it quite quickly, and the twists towards the end were surprising to me, but it wasn’t quite up to the standard of Gone Girl or The Girl on the Train.

Have you read The Woman in Cabin 10? What did you think? Am I the only one who obsessed over Judah? Please tell me I’m not alone!

 

Lyndsey

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