The Art of Death by David Fennell #BookReview

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Death is an art, and he is the master . . .

Three glass cabinets appear in London’s Trafalgar Square containing a gruesome art installation: the floating corpses of three homeless men. Shock turns to horror when it becomes clear that the bodies are real.

The cabinets are traced to @nonymous – an underground artist shrouded in mystery who makes a chilling promise: MORE WILL FOLLOW.

Eighteen years ago, Detective Inspector Grace Archer escaped a notorious serial killer. Now, she and her caustic DS, Harry Quinn, must hunt down another.

As more bodies appear at London landmarks and murders are livestreamed on social media, their search for @nonymous becomes a desperate race against time. But what Archer doesn’t know is that the killer is watching their every move – and he has his sights firmly set on her . . .

He is creating a masterpiece. And she will be the star of his show.

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star three and a half

I was immediately drawn to the cover of this book, it has a perfect vibe for a dark thriller (who doesn’t love that nice extra touch of some fake blood spatters on a cover eh) and I was really looking forward to reading this novel.

I enjoyed plenty of things about The Art of Death. First off, I found that the macabre vibe of the cover was reflected in the book as well and I LOVED that. It wasn’t there all the time and it didn’t domineer the story but at times there was this extra little dark touch that made my heart pump a little faster. I didn’t realise it at the time but the story really does grow more harrowing with every new chapter. At the start of The Art of Death three bodies (yes why not three at once) are found dead in a glass case for all to see. The killer has a weird sense of seeing dead bodies as art. How he can have a huge following and fans is beyond my comprehension but what do I know. Then, however, the author has a few other tricks up his sleeve that are effectively shocking. Like getting to know the victims quite well first and then witnessing their deaths. Seriously, I don’t want to read about formadehyde for at least three books now, what a way to die! There’s also one particular scene that I read while trying to divert my eyes a little (it didn’t help) and which really stood out for me, as well as one victim that I couldn’t help root so hard for to survive!

The only issue that I had with this book was that even though it had so much going for it and however much I enjoyed the team of Quinn and Archer, it didn’t surprise me enough. I knew what was what and not even the red herrings in the story could fool me. It was just too plain to see…

Another plot and another killer and I might love his next story so definitely one to watch out for. The author and the vibe of the novel reminds me a little bit of J.D. Barker so if the plot gets a bit more clever then he could mean some serious competition in the future.

I received a copy of this book via my Capital Crime Book Subscription box. This is my honest opinion.

The House Guest by Mark Edwards #BookReview

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A perfect summer. A perfect stranger. A perfect nightmare.

When British twenty-somethings Ruth and Adam are offered the chance to spend the summer housesitting in New York, they can’t say no. Young, in love and on the cusp of professional success, they feel as if luck is finally on their side.

So the moment that Eden turns up on the doorstep, drenched from a summer storm, it seems only right to share a bit of that good fortune. Beautiful and charismatic, Eden claims to be a friend of the homeowners, who told her she could stay whenever she was in New York.

They know you’re not supposed to talk to strangers―let alone invite them into your home―but after all, Eden’s only a stranger until they get to know her.

As suspicions creep in that Eden may not be who she claims to be, they begin to wonder if they’ve made a terrible mistake…

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star three and a half

After I read the brilliant novel Here to Stay (here’s my review) I bought a copy of his next book The House Guest, and then I also received it in my Capital Crime subscription box so with two copies on my shelves I felt the universe was telling me I really needed to read it soon. So 6 months later here we are ;-).

I absolutely loved the first part of the novel where we get to know the unexpected stranger Eden (it did make me smile that she turned up at Adam’s and Eve’s Ruth’s doorstep) and the tension starts to seep in because I could feel something was about to go wrong, and I wondered what Eden could be hiding. The bearded guy watching the place highly contributed to that feeling. Was he after her, was she in danger? The cut came rather too quick with Part Two of the story starting already after 58 pages and unfortunately what followed was an over the top plotline and one I personally don’t really enjoy reading about. I can’t really spell it out (although I wish it was mentioned in the book blurb) but if you know my taste you can probably guess the direction it took. There followed an action-packed part for Adam which held my attention because I love a good chase but the idea of this plotline was just a bit too far fetched even though it all fits together perfectly. It was quite spectacular in the end and not how I had envisioned a house-sitting to develop into at all.

Overall this story was okay. The House Guest was only not entirely my genre so not my favourite one if I have to choose. Oh well, I guess now that we have this subject covered, it won’t appear in the next novel so I can’t wait to read the next one!

I bought a copy (ok copies) of this novel. This is my honest opinion.

The Maidens by Alex Michaelides #BookReview

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St Christopher’s College, Cambridge, is a closed world to most.

For Mariana Andros – a group therapist struggling through her private grief – it’s where she met her late husband. For her niece, Zoe, it’s the tragic scene of her best friend’s murder.

As memory and mystery entangle Mariana, she finds a society full of secrets, which has been shocked to its core by the murder of one of its students.

Because behind its idyllic beauty is a web of jealousy and rage which emanates from an exclusive set of students known only as The Maidens. A group under the sinister influence of the enigmatic professor Edward Fosca.

A man who seems to know more than anyone about the murders – and the victims. And the man who will become the prime suspect in Mariana’s investigation – an obsession which will cost her everything…

The Maidens is a story of love, and of grief – of what makes us who we are, and what makes us kill.

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star three and a half / 5_Star_Rating_System_4_stars_1457015877_81_246_96_2

Michaelides’s debut novel The Silent Patient was an amazing read and merits to be called a real bestseller, and the huge #WTF twist made this book so memorable that it went straight to my top 10 of 2019 (here’s my review). You can imagine how excited I was to read his next book The Maidens and how I jumped for joy when I was approved to read an ecopy on Netgalley.

The Maidens is a solid read but maybe my expectations were a little too high as for me personally it didn’t equal the first novel. One of the things I did however particularly enjoy about this novel were the references to Greek mythology, to the legend of the goddess Demeter and her daughter Persephone who was abducted by Hades (to jog your memory: the turning of the seasons is liased to Persophone) and the Greek celebration of this legend (The Rites of Eleusis because Demeter went to look for her daughter at Eleusis). The (not quite so secret) little student club was quite intriguing and I could easily imagine secret rites among this group and there being someone who wants to share a message to the world. Mariana is quite hung up on the killer being the professor Fosca but the more she became obsessed, the more I became convinced that it couldn’t be him… even though I had no clue who was leaving intriguing calling cards.

Unfortunately the author doesn’t pull the line entirely through and The Maidens themselves were ultimately not as interesting as I expected. The characters of this group were not developed so I didn’t really care much whether they could be a next victim and if you ask me to describe them I wouldn’t really know what to say. I’m in two minds at times as well though because I’m not a fan of reading about cults and rites (remember my review of The Furies) so I was on the other hand quite happy I was spared having to read such scenes.

I did love that a few characters from the first novel are named in this novel too, they are intricately woven into this plot. Don’t worry though, you don’t need the first novel, it’s just a reference made at some point but it was cool!

I quite liked the big twist in the end, he tried to pull off another one of his unexpected twists and although it was for me partially successful, it was a bit radical. I thought the book was leading somewhere but it actually takes a whole different direction in the end, which is amazing, only I don’t deal well with such startling turnarounds.

The Maidens is a psychological thriller with a gothic edge. Don’t take your eyes off the first part is the only advice I can give you and maybe you’ll be more triumphant in discovering who did it than I was.

I received a free ecopy of this novel from the publisher via Netgalley. This is still my honest opinion.

Sleepless by Romy Hausmann #BookReview

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It’s over, my angel. Today I’m going to die. Just like her. He’s won.

It’s been years since Nadja Kulka was convicted of a cruel crime. After being released from prison, she’s wanted nothing more than to live a normal life: nice flat, steady job, even a few friends. But when one of those friends, Laura von Hoven – free-spirited beauty and wife of Nadja’s boss – kills her lover and begs Nadja for her help, Nadja can’t seem to be able to refuse.

The two women make for a remote house in the woods, the perfect place to bury a body. But their plan quickly falls apart and Nadja finds herself outplayed, a pawn in a bizarre game in which she is both the perfect victim and the perfect murderer . . .

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I know there were a few weeks of silence but a combination of not enough sleep (the cat still keeps me awake every night from around 3 am), 8 hours of work already on the computer each day and some other things filling my head (my apartment’s final delivery is coming up but there are still things that need to be solved, just to name one), well it drained my energy and made my reading and reviewing suffer. I can’t even promise to be back next week, I’ll have to see how it goes, although I do hope to feel more energized and full of inspiration to write reviews soon (it’s amazing that I had so many visitors in between though, now I feel even more guilty for not keeping up).

Anyway, I want to let you know my thoughts on Sleepless by Romy Haussman today. I was a big fan of Romy Hausmann’s first novel Dear Child so I was thrilled with a chance to read Sleepless. There’s no comparing the two novels though, this new title did have an altogether different feel to it, even though it is also themed as a psychological and mystery novel.

I was already a good portion into the story before the connections between the characters made sense, especially at first it felt quite confusing. A young girl Nelly is having an affair with a salesman who stays at her parent’s inn whenever he’s travelling but it was impossible to work out what her appearance had to do with Nadja, especially because it happened in a different time frame. I couldn’t place what happened in the past to Nelly in any context and this thread is left then as well so other then introducing another character into the story, I did not see the relevance right then but eventually it does become clear in the end.

Nadja Kulka is quite a mysterious character, she was arrested when she was only 15 for committing a terrible crime and now she’s in the heat of the fire again when she’s called for help by Laura, a friend she made while working at a Gero van Hoven’s law firm. I’m always team underdog so I liked her but with everything that happened the author managed to make me have my doubts too… Is Nadja the perfect victim or is she in fact the one orchestrating and lying most of all? Who is the real villain of the story, Laura, her husband Gero van Hoven, or Nadja, it isn’t always clear and changes a over the course of the story too.

I absolutely love novels with fascinating characters that make me want to analyse them and Nadja was the most fascinating of all. Laura was a cheat and Gero a shark (he’s a lawyer after all) who didn’t listen when his client said he was innocent, so I catalogued them as the other party from the start and there was no love lost on them but Nadja, yes she was the one worthy of trying to figure out. Haussman is at her best on the psychological front and I enjoyed this part the most again. Nadja’s childhood was addictive to read and the story also came full circle with Nelly’s story tied into the great emotional ending of the novel. The story is about sacrifice but you’ll have to read it to learn who is being sacrificed. I found it a tad unbelievable, in light of how it all started but maybe I’m too severe, who knows. Let me know when you read it so we can exchange viewpoints.

I received a free copy of this novel from the publisher via Netgalley. This is my honest opinion.

Layla by Colleen Hoover #BookReview

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When Leeds meets Layla, he’s convinced he’ll spend the rest of his life with her—until an unexpected attack leaves Layla fighting for her life. After weeks in the hospital, Layla recovers physically, but the emotional and mental scarring has altered the woman Leeds fell in love with. In order to put their relationship back on track, Leeds whisks Layla away to the bed-and-breakfast where they first met. Once they arrive, Layla’s behavior takes a bizarre turn. And that’s just one of many inexplicable occurrences.

Feeling distant from Layla, Leeds soon finds solace in Willow—another guest of the B&B with whom he forms a connection through their shared concerns. As his curiosity for Willow grows, his decision to help her find answers puts him in direct conflict with Layla’s well-being. Leeds soon realizes he has to make a choice because he can’t help both of them. But if he makes the wrong choice, it could be detrimental for all of them.

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star three and a half

It’s been a while since I read a novel by one of my favorite romance authors. Even though I’m a big fan I don’t want to binge-read her novels. Her books need to be savored like a fine wine, I enjoy drinking in her words but want to pace myself and not just have too much at once. This novel is causing some division in my head though and it’s the first novel I read that is a difficult one to form an opinion of. I confess I had not read any reviews beforehand because I know this author and I loved every single book she has written but I was unprepared for the genre of novel this was. It seems she’s venturing further from the type of novels she wrote in the past, first dabbling into a different genre with Verity (a thriller, which I really liked because it also had a cool twist) and now this one.

Layla had an important and big plot twist which involves one of those tropes I really don’t like reading about so I felt a little deflated when I first found out. Had I known this then I don’t know if I had picked it up yet and would have chosen to read another one of hers first. Maybe it is a good thing though that I didn’t know because I did come around in the end so the final verdict is that I did enjoy it and chances are you’ll probably like it even more than me.

Without going into the plot, I can say that I felt conflicted at first that Leeds spent so much time with Willow, it somehow felt quite disloyal that he started to have these sort of secret conversations and encounters and as the story progressed that feeling only grew stronger. I was happy when he finally started to think about what he was doing because I reached that point much earlier so I didn’t really like Leeds and the fact that there are chapters where he has Layla TIED UP IN HER ROOM was even more reason for me to totally dislike him. I totally changed my mind in the end though and I totally understood his actions then so I did love that the author managed to change my feelings towards Willow, Layla and Leeds completely.

Apart from the trope that demanded some suspension of my belief, it is also not my favorite novel by the author because I couldn’t feel as deeply and as emotionally as I would have if it were a straightforward love story. One where I didn’t block the feeling of wanting a romance to blossom between two people who aren’t in a relationship as much as I did here from the start. The focus of my feelings was more on disliking certain characters instead of focusing on the love aspect. It’s all a bit unrealistic for me but she did manage to write something that will surprise the reader as it is something fresh and original.

I do have Heart Bones, another novel of hers waiting on my tbr pile so hopefully that will really give me what I want to satisfy my romantic side.

I bought a paperback copy of this novel. This is my honest opinion.

Every Step She Takes by K.L. Armstrong #AudioBookReview

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Sometimes there’s no use running from your past. . . .

Genevieve has secrets that no one knows. In Rome she can be whoever she wants to be. Her neighbours aren’t nosy; her Italian is passable; the shopkeepers and restaurant owners now see her as a local, and they let her be. It’s exactly what she wants.

One morning, after getting groceries, she returns to her 500-year-old Trastevere apartment. She climbs to the very top of the staircase, the stairs narrowing the higher she goes. When she gets to her door, she puts down her bags and pushes the key into the lock . . .

. . . and the door swings open.

It’s unlocked. Sometimes she doesn’t lock it because break-ins aren’t common in Rome. But Genevieve knows she locked the door behind her this morning. She has no doubt.

She should leave, call the police. What if someone is in her apartment, waiting for her? But she doesn’t.

The apartment is empty, and exactly as she left it, perfectly tidy and not a thing out of place . . . except for the small box on her kitchen table. A box that definitely wasn’t there this morning. A box postmarked from the US. A box that is addressed to “Lucy Callahan.”

A name that she hasn’t used in ten years.

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I’m giving an audiobook a new try and the results are… well somewhere in the middle ground. After finishing Every Step She Takes I realise that the blurb is more of a teaser but doesn’t really say what the book is about. There is no big mystery who sent the box, the mystery lies in what happens after sender and receiver meet and let’s just say the encounter won’t go exactly as planned.

Goodreads announces Every Step She Takes to be edge-of-your-seat riveting but frankly, it was hard to get into it at first. The build up was slow and at the pivotal moment where the story kicks off, I knew I was headed for a mystery/drama more than a thriller. Lucy/Genevieve Callahan is the character who it’s all about. In a past plotline she shares how, aged 18, she starts a summer job babysitting the two children of a celebrity couple (movie star Colt Gordon and his wife and violinist Isabella Morales) and how it went so wrong one day that she ended up as a musical teacher in Italy, keeping her head down and trying not to be recognized. In the present day she finally has a chance to set the record straight and tell what happened, or didn’t happen, on one fateful night. I thought it would be something major, something worth moving several countries for but it was not as excessive as I presumed. I know the media is not to be underestimated and they can break people but still, I felt it was a little overplayed. Anyway, Lucy has learned from her past experience with the media so she’s not taking any chances this time and decides to take the matter in her own hands and find out who really should be in the media’s eye now instead.

One of the things I liked in this novel was the fact that Lucy (aka llamagirl) received help from someone called PC Tracy via text messages. She and I had the same idea who this PC Tracy was but we were both wrong and it was one of the best twists in the novel. The final chapters also made me happy I persevered with most of the action and revelations revealed in the last part of the novel.

Finally, I don’t want to end this without telling that I really had fun listening to the narrator’s Italian accent for Isabella Morales and Lucy’s lover Marco, she did this brilliantly and I wanted them to talk as much as possible.

One by One by Ruth Ware #BookReview

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Snow is falling in the exclusive alpine ski resort of Saint Antoine, as the shareholders and directors of Snoop, the hottest new music app, gather for a make or break corporate retreat to decide the future of the company. At stake is a billion-dollar dot com buyout that could make them all millionaires, or leave some of them out in the cold.

The clock is ticking on the offer, and with the group irrevocably split, tensions are running high. When an avalanche cuts the chalet off from help, and one board member goes missing in the snow, the group is forced to ask – would someone resort to murder, to get what they want?

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star three and a half

First of all, I loved the high-tech idea introduced in the novel. Snoop’s founders developed an app where you can listen to the music someone else is listening to at the same moment they’re listening to it. It’s a bit invasive right and it felt perfect for this locked-in mystery type of novel where you don’t know who has eyes on who. Leading man Topher wants to sell his wonderful company in a buyout that’s on offer, his ex-wife Eva is opposed, ex-employee Liz and Snooper founder Rik are caught in the middle, having to choose sides. And then, suddenly, one of them goes missing and the cards are reshuffled… 

I love the guessing game in this type of novel and I don’t mind a big cast at all, it makes it just a bit more challenging and who’s not up for this kind of challenge eh? Unfortunately, this time there wasn’t much guessing because at about 60% into the novel it was pretty obvious who the killer was and I felt it was too soon to be done with the joy of sleuthing. I had a marvelous time up until then and it all became clear going from one scene to the next. You’re not going to believe it, I know, because there are 11 people at the cabin at the start of the novel. Nine of them are guests and two act as cabin staff. Even so it’s nearly impossible to miss which one the killer is. The author also gave away how many are going to be killed quite early in the story and that didn’t go unnoticed so yep I was making check marks as we went along. Fear not, there’s still a very enjoyable time to be had because you might know who it is but you definitely don’t know why. The underlying reasons were far from obvious from the beginning and this is where I recognized the true brilliance of Ruth Ware in again.

I love the way she writes but aside from Topher (the alpha dog and main man), Erin and a few others, I didn’t find the other characters very interesting and I thought some of them could definitely have been developed more, like Ani and Tiger, because they remain rather vague figures without any real identifiers.   

It was a good read but I simply didn’t love it the way I loved the first novel (The Lying Game, remember) and it was wayyyy too easy for a sleuth who loves a good challenge. I do look forward to her next novel though and in between I’ve already decided to pick up one of the backlist.

I received a free copy of this novel from the publisher via Netgalley. This is still my honest opinion.

 

My Mother’s Secret by Sanjida Kay #BookReview

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You can only hide for so long…

Lizzie Bradshaw. A student from the Lake District, forced to work away from home, who witnesses a terrible crime. But who will ultimately pay the price?

Emma Taylor. A mother, a wife, and a woman with a dangerous secret. Can she keep her beloved family safely together?

Stella Taylor. A disaffected teenager, determined to discover what her mother is hiding. But how far will she go to uncover the truth?

And one man, powerful, manipulative and cunning, who controls all their destinies.

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star three and a half

I’m not sure what’s going on with me lately but I’m still working on it to find my next top read. I really need to finish this review now because it is taking me forever to write something down and the funny part is that I actually liked the novel, I just wasn’t blown away by it. My Mother’s Secret is the second novel I read by Sanjida Kay and I do really enjoy this author’s style of writing so there is definitely that and right from the beginning the story had me hooked again. Differently from my first experience with her previous novel, The Stolen Child it didn’t have that same shocking quality though. It did have several twists but none of them really surprised me.

The story is narrated by Lizzy in the past and Emma and Stella (mother and daughter) in the present. It became clear that Emma knew things about Lizzy’s past and about her husband so I knew there was some connection, there was no denying that. Was she someone close or could it even be that she was Lizzy, but how and why? This little mystery was what actually kept me guessing the longest. Emma did make some strange decisions and I didn’t really like the way she treated her husband, seeking the company of another man. The story flowed nicely but it was all quite predictable, there was a lot of foreshadowing and I knew who everyone was before it was revealed.

There were some serious Gone Girl vibes weaved into the plot in the end and I did enjoy that part though so I’m hoping she’ll surprise me more next time, I’ll be her biggest fan again then.

I won a free copy of this novel in a Twitter giveaway. This is my honest opinion.

Mini #AudioBookReviews – liar, liar, tongue on fire!

The Last Wife audio

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Two women. A dying wish. And a web of lies that will bring their world crashing down.

Nina and Marie were best friends-until Nina was diagnosed with a terminal illness. Before she died, Nina asked Marie to fulfill her final wishes.

But her mistake was in thinking Marie was someone she could trust.

What Nina didn’t know was that Marie always wanted her beautiful life, and that Marie has an agenda of her own. She’ll do anything to get what she wants.

Marie thinks she can keep her promise to her friend’s family on her own terms. But what she doesn’t know is that Nina was hiding explosive secrets of her own…

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star three and a half

I read Karen Hamilton’s debut novel The Perfect Girlfriend in 2017 as one of the first and I couldn’t shut up about it at the time so it went without saying that I had to read – or listen to – her next novel. It did take me a while to get into the story but it was worth pushing through. I like revenge stories but sometimes it grows old to read about an obsessive jealous protagonist. Marie, the main character, seems calculated, wanting nothing else than Nina’s life who seems to have all her ducks in order. Nina has a wonderful relationship with Stuart and two children, a boy Felix and a girl Emily, until she dies. Cue Marie who sees an opportunity there… but while I thought I knew how this story was going to go it veered into a completely different direction and the past that I had overlooked at first, plays a much more important role than I initially thought and I saw literally everyone in another light by the end of the novel.

The narration of Marie’s and Camilla’s (the other woman in the picture who Marie rather want to see going than coming) voices were quite pleasant to listen to but I didn’t really like Stuart’s. The narrator (Michelle Ford) made his voice croak and he sounded much older than he should be in my head, he also spoke rather slowly, making me feel that he was a bit simple minded. It’s a small qualm but still. I know I was wrong about him though, he’s not a dumb ass and neither is Marie. My opinions about her changed greatly and I even felt sorry for her (the one I called the bitch in my head I have to admit) at a given point. She tries so hard to have Nina’s life and when she finally almost has it, only then does she realize that Nina had quite a few secrets and now she’ll have to make her own decisions if she wants to keep the secrets too. Personally, I think I’d give this 4 stars if I had read it, it had quite a few suspects and twists involved in the second part of the novel, there’s only a teensy bit more love for this author’s debut that had me hooked right away.  

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HowNotToDieAlone audio

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Andrew’s been feeling stuck.

For years he’s worked a thankless public health job, searching for the next of kin of those who die alone. Luckily, he goes home to a loving family every night. At least, that’s what his coworkers believe.

Then he meets Peggy.

A misunderstanding has left Andrew trapped in his own white lie and his lonely apartment. When new employee Peggy breezes into the office like a breath of fresh air, she makes Andrew feel truly alive for the first time in decades.

Could there be more to life than this?

But telling Peggy the truth could mean losing everything. For twenty years, Andrew has worked to keep his heart safe, forgetting one important thing: how to live. Maybe it’s time for him to start.

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First of all, the narration was performed by Simon Vance and we hit it off right away, I loved the fast tempo in which he told the story. He sounded a bit on speed, going a hundred words an hour, but I liked it. You had no choice but to pay attention, there’s not a single chance that you risk a wandering mind when listening to this one. Peggy’s accent was rather special to my ears, I don’t know where she was from. It was still understandable so there were no worries but let’s just say Andrew’s voice was easier.

Secondly, I really liked Andrew’s job. He works for the city council and he has to investigate dead people’s homes, looking for evidence of next of kin in the form of letters, cards, any contact details, and also see if there are any financial statements or official documents lying around that can shed a light on their finances. I was intrigued and interested in witnessing what he came across when entering someone’s home.

I know this might sound weird but I had already thought about this before this audiobook and I actually think this could happen to me when I’m old. I think that’s why I also connected quite well with Andrew, we are actually pretty much alike. For one, he’s also in the same situation as the people of the houses he visits, he lives a very solitary life and he also happened to have told a little white lie about having a family. A white lie that is hard to keep up and is going to get him into trouble, especially as his boss is insisting at organizing dinner’s at everyone’s homes. Where is he going to find a wife and two kids in a fortnight so to speak? 

I found the story itself rather slow and not all of the characters were equally interesting or fleshed out enough. I liked the friends Andrew had online and the plotlines revolving around them, and I liked how understanding Peggy was but I didn’t care for his other colleagues or his boss at all. In the end you know how this is going to end and while the journey towards the end is just as important, I felt was just not quite so memorable as I would have liked and for once I liked the narration more than the story itself. 

The Chain by Adrian McKinty #BookReview

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You just dropped off your child at the bus stop. A panicked stranger calls your phone. Your child has been kidnapped, and the stranger explains that their child has also been kidnapped, by a completely different stranger. The only way to get your child back is to kidnap another child within 24 hours. Your child will be released only when the next victim’s parents kidnap yet another child, and most importantly, the stranger explains, if you don’t kidnap a child, or if the next parents don’t kidnap a child, your child will be murdered. You are now part of The Chain.

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star three and a half / 5_Star_Rating_System_4_stars_1457015877_81_246_96_2

I’m late to the party as ever because I had this book for a while but then I suddenly had a really good reason to bump this novel to the top of my reading list. See just last month I found out that The Chain is the 2020 Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel Of The Year. The author leaves Lee Child, Jane Casey, Will Carver and Chris Brookmyre behind him by winning this award. You can imagine that I just had to see for myself what made this novel so special.

And yes The Chain is special, the concept of the novel most of all. It’s a living nightmare when your child is kidnapped and when you are driven to do things that are immoral and criminal even. But wouldn’t you do anything for your child? How far would you go? Is there a limit? Would you harm another child in order to save yours? The whole system is quite a clever set up from the kidnappers and it looks flawless as well. Is there any way to stop this insane thing from happening over and over again? It would seem not and so I kept on reading, hoping that there was going to be a twist, something to change the odds and let the people behind all of it become the ones hunted.

The first half of the novel was gripping and frightening, the tension was hanging in the air and I had my eyes glued to the pages, but when the worst of the worst was over and I relaxed in the second part of the story, it also kind of lost its momentum a little bit. It picked back up again in the very end but it never really reached that same riveting level again as at first.

I did enjoy the characters of Rachel and Pete and they certainly made me wonder how a cancer patient and a heroin addict were going to lead to a twist to the story. Why do Americans always go looking for trouble? I didn’t see this ending well! Rachel and Pete are clever but so are the people behind The Chain so the game is on! I really enjoyed the way the author also wove the past of one of the characters into the present events. I believe that both parties surprised each other, and me in the process as well.

The whole novel is so movie-worthy, I could easily see it vividly in my head so I’m very happy it is already snapped up by Universal and is going to be turned into a movie. I’ll be at the front row to see this one!

 I own a copy of this novel. This is my honest opinion.

PS. The new WordPress editor didn’t save most of my review the first time I wrote it (which I was much happier with) but it is what it is now ;-). Also I hate that I can’t justify text anymore (at work I have to so it feels wrong) but what can you do huh?