Category: Suspense

Review: Force of Nature

Force of Nature

Thank you to Amelia at Flatiron Books for the review copy of this book! All opinions are my own!

You find the belongings or the shelter, the body’s always next. Always is.

When Anne Bogel picked Jane Harper’s The Dry as a selection for her Modern Mrs. Darcy book club, I couldn’t wait to read it. I ended up loving it (Check out my review of The Dry HERE.) and was excited to learn that she had a sequel (different setting, same detective, Aaron Falk) coming up very soon. Force of Nature, while quite different from The Dry, is just as atmospherically dramatic, and I couldn’t put it down until the very end.

Five females on a work-sponsored team-building trip head off on a days-long hike into the fictional Giralang Ranges in Australia. When only four of them emerge from the forest, a search and rescue mission is put together, and Agent Aaron Falk is called in to investigate. Each woman has a slightly different story about what happened, and they’re all hiding something. Falk also has a connection with the missing hiker, one that he can’t tell anyone about. Did someone on the trip murder the missing woman, or will she surprise them all with her own secrets?

I really, really liked this book. It’s very different from The Dry, though, but the writing is just as good. Where The Dry really got into character development and the characters’ personalities, what drives them in life, Force of Nature relies more heavily on plot. I love a good plot-driven novel, so that didn’t bother me, but I did miss getting to know the new characters in the book and getting to know Aaron Falk even more. Still, the plot is fantastic, the writing is snappy, and Harper does a wonderful job of switching back and forth between the investigation and what really happened on the hike. If you like suspense and well-written, if not as well developed, characters, you will love this book!

Force of Nature is a strong sequel, and Jane Harper is clearly a talented writer. If you haven’t read The Dry, I would recommend reading it first, but you don’t have to to enjoy this book. She’s at work on a third Aaron Falk novel, and I cannot wait for it!


Review: The Wife Between Us

The Wife Between Us

Read between the lies.

One of the best things about joining Bookstagram last year was getting new book recommendations. I discovered that I love suspense novels, and I’ve read more of them than ever before. When Book of the Month club offered The Wife Between Us as a choice for December, I added it to my box so fast. In addition, it’s the January pick for the Salt Water Reads book club! The Wife Between Us is suspenseful, twisty, and a definite page-turner, but I was a bit disappointed in parts of it.

So this is where I would usually put a description of the plot. But truly, any description of plot for this book would ruin it! It’s that twisty! So I will just say this. There is a wife. There is an ex-wife. There is a husband. And none of them are what they seem.

I’m so sorry to do that to you! But if you read this book, you’ll understand. The book felt suspenseful by the end of chapter 1, which is always a good sign. One of the premises is that the ex-wife might be a bit crazy, and I kept wondering if she was actually crazy or if her ex-husband was gaslighting her. (If you haven’t seen the 1944 film Gaslight, you should watch it immediately. It would be a great companion watch with this book.)

The first twist (there are many) is interesting, but it made me a little concerned about where it would go from there. The second big twist in the novel was . . . something I didn’t see coming, and I’m still not sure how I feel about it. I think if the authors had somehow tied it into the first half of the novel a bit more I would have been ok with it, but I ended up feeling a bit played, and a bit weird about wanting to keep reading. (But I did, because I needed to know what happened.) And just to be clear for those who have read it or who do read it: it’s not the subject matter I have a problem with in that big twist, it’s the way it was presented. Just a personal preference issue!

I realize this review is a bit vague, but I really don’t want to spoil the book for anyone. I’ll leave it at this: If you like suspense novels with major twists that you may or may not see coming, absolutely read The Wife Between Us. I really loved the first half, and was disappointed with the second half, but I’m glad that I read it. And honestly, all of this just gives me more to talk about when we discuss it over at Salt Water Reads!



Review: Abigale Hall

Abigale Hall

In a hidden corner of the Welsh countryside, beneath the dark green hills and stretching deep underground, lies a secret.


This is not the sort of book I would usually reach for, even around Halloween. Maybe especially around Halloween. But Madeleine at Top Shelf Text recommended it so highly that I had to give it a try. I’m so glad I did, because while it was an anxiety-inducing novel, it was a really well-written one. Abigale Hall by Lauren Forry is categorized as a suspense novel, but it’s written in the vein of gothic horror novels. If you want a well-written, fast-paced page-turner, this is the one to go for.

17-year-old Eliza and her younger sister Rebecca have orphaned due to various events during WWII. Their mother was killed in the Blitz, their father committed suicide, and their aunt very suddenly and mysteriously decides she can no longer care for them and they are sent to work at a crumbling mansion in Wales. They never see the owner, Mr. Brownwell, and the housekeeper, Mrs. Pollard, is . . . off. Eliza tries to make plans to escape back to London, but when she discovers a book covered in blood, she has to figure out what’s going in the house and why none of the other girls hired in the past are alive.

This book made me nervous when I read it, and I genuinely feared for the safety of the characters. If the plot reminds you of Daphne Du Maurier’s Rebecca, it’s for a good reason. There are definite similarities between the two, and if you like Rebecca you’ll probably like this book too. The story is creepy and mysterious, but it’s not gory, so if gore bothers you (like it does me) don’t let that keep you from this one! WWII is the backdrop of the story, but I wouldn’t say it’s a major theme in the book.

None of the characters in the book are completely likable, but it was ok because the story drew me in so much. Eliza, who frustrated me at the beginning of the book, does go through some necessary character changes, and I was completely on her side by the end. I don’t want to say much about Rebecca, because her role in the story is twisted and interesting, but suffice it to say that she definitely adds to the creepiness and mystery!

Abigale Hall is a great gothic fiction story, and it’s perfect for people who don’t like to read real horror, such as Stephen King. It fits right in with books like Rebecca and Wuthering Heights, but is a bit more modern and fast-paced. Forry is a talented author, and I can’t wait to see what she writes next!



Review: Lies She Told

Lies She Told

To be a writer is to be a life thief. Every day, I rob myself blind.

When I saw that my friend Stacey at Prose and Palate was a guest judge (AGAIN, because she’s amazing) for Book of the Month, I knew I would selecting whatever book she recommended. So there was no question that for September, my choice was Lies She Told by Cate Holahan. I read this suspense novel in two days, and believe me when I say that I hardly ever read a book that fast. It was so engaging and tense that I couldn’t put it down until I had finished. (Including telling my kids to wait a minute before I read to them, because I had to finish MY book first!)

It’s only a story.

Liza is a novelist whose latest book sales aren’t fantastic. Her publisher is giving her one more chance to write a bestseller, and she doesn’t have time to do it. She and her husband are also trying to start a family, and her husband’s best friend and law partner has disappeared. To cope, Liza disappears into her novel, writing about her main character, Beth. Beth has a new baby and a cheating husband. Her plan of confronting him about it goes awry, and before she knows it, she’s pushing the mistress’s body into the East River. Before long, Liza’s and Beth’s lives intertwine, and Liza has to figure out what is the truth, what is fiction, and whose story she’s really in.

I was hooked on this book from the very beginning. The story is told in alternating chapters between Liza and Beth. Holahan expertly writes the Beth and Liza chapters so that they become entwined, and I kept forgetting which woman I was reading about. It wasn’t frustrating, though, and it added to the tension in a really good way. (The font used for each character’s chapter is different, so there’s always a reminder.) She puts just enough pressure on the characters, both real and fictional, that you feel the tension as they try to figure out what to do. The twist was great, and while I did figure it out before the ending, it really didn’t bother me because I was having such a good time reading and going along on the adventure with Liza and Beth.

There were a few editorial misses (a name changed mid-paragraph, some words were left out) that made the editor in me cringe, but I was ok with ignoring that because I had to keep reading!

Lies She Told is a fantastic suspense novel, and if you’re a fan of this category, I think you’ll love this one!


Review: Emma in the Night

Emma in the Night

Thank you so much to Texas Reader Girl for loaning me her ARC of this book!

The moment I had not been prepared for—the one thing I had not ever imagined in all those years—was that my mother would not recognize me.

I’m not going to lie. The initial thing that drew me into this book was the cover. It is haunting, and I wanted to know more. Happily, the inside of the book surpassed the outside. Emma in the Night by Wendy Walker is a psychological thriller perfect for fall (but really any season, to be honest), and I found myself reading as fast as I could, anywhere I could, to find out what exactly was going on with Emma.

The Tanner sisters, Cass and Emma, disappeared three years ago. Early one morning, Cass shows up on her mother’s doorstep demanding that they need to go back to “the island” for Emma. A detective and a forensic psychologist interview Cass multiple times, piecing together a strange story of kidnapping, a mysterious island off the coast of Maine, and a baby. In addition, the psychologist is convinced that something isn’t quite right with Cass and Emma’s family life, and it may have something to do with why they were kidnapped.

I loved this book. It’s not only a thriller, it’s a study in narcissistic personality disorder and just how far someone with that diagnosis will go to put themselves first. The level of manipulation (I won’t tell you which characters-I have to leave some spoilers out here!) in this story is wild. I found myself wishing I could give advice or hugs to some of the characters in the book, and I might have actually talked to the book . . . out loud . . . because a certain character (ahem, Cass and Emma’s mom) was so frustrating.

I don’t want to say much else, because there are a lot of twists and turns in Emma in the Night, and you should definitely discover them for yourself. Bottom line: if you like a good story, a well-written psychological thriller, and a great crime-solving plot, you need to pick this book up immediately. (This would be fantastic for book clubs!)