Reputation
December 4th, 2019 by diane92345

What happens to Mean Girls and Pretty Little Liars when they grow up? They become concerned about their Reputation.

“Good reputations land jobs, find you a spouse, earn you the right friends. But have a bad reputation—well. Here come the whispers. Here come the slammed doors. So it makes sense to preserve a good name, sure. But how far would you go to preserve your reputation—especially when you fear you’re about to be exposed? Would you work on a good cover story? Would you lie? Would you kill?”—from Reputation

Kit, Lynn, Laura, and Raina have a complicated relationship. One is Insta-curating her life to show perfection where little really lies. One is envious of another. Another is having an affair with someone else’s husband. When the college where they all work is hacked and their email exposed, they all scramble to conceal their secrets from each other. However, when one person is murdered, everything is exposed for all to see.

Reputation is an engrossing read. The story of the secrets that people have behind their heavily curated facade is compelling. It is truly difficult to stop reading because you want to see the author’s next sleight of hand twist, of which there are many. While the book dragged a bit in the middle—it is rather long for a domestic thriller—the surprising conclusion is well worth the time spent. If you liked the author’s previous work or just domestic thrillers in general, you will enjoy this book. 4 stars!

Thanks to Dutton Books and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.

Posted in Mystery & Thrillers, New Books Tagged with: ,

The Family Upstairs
November 11th, 2019 by diane92345

“Socialite and husband dead in suicide pact. Teenage children missing; baby found alive.”

The Family Upstairs is the story of that baby’s journey to discover her roots and what really happened that night.

The baby, Libby, is now twenty-five years old and set to inherit the Chelsea mansion where the event occurred. Lucy is a homeless English woman with two children in France. Henry is a rich, but odd, man who is one of the missing teenagers twenty-five years later.

“It all happened so slowly, yet so extraordinarily quickly, the change to our parents, to our home, to our lives after they arrived.”

All three tell their tales of what happened both before and after the event.

The Family Upstairs is a compelling thriller that builds an impressive atmosphere of dread. Everyone but the people involved know something horrible is going to happen. It is truly a can’t-put-it-down book. The characters are so human and realistic that you are forced to read one more chapter until the story is done regardless of what time your alarm will ring.

I love the author’s books for their originality in a crowded genre. But most of all, I love that she thanked the “two double vodkas and tonics that saw me through the last three chapters of this book late on a Friday night…Cheers!” in the Acknowledgements. Can you imagine what Hemingway or Poe would write if they thanked their alcoholic muses? Cheers, indeed.

The Family Upstairs should appeal to most thriller and women’s fiction fans especially if they like their tales dark. It would not be a good choice for those readers triggered by child abuse. Otherwise, pick up this spellbinding family thriller. 4 stars!

Thanks to Atria Books and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.

Here are my reviews of two other family thrillers by this author:

Watching You

Here She Was Gone

Posted in Mystery & Thrillers, New Books Tagged with: ,

Poison Garden
October 25th, 2019 by diane92345

It’s the day before her one-year wedding anniversary and Elise has a problem in the new gaslight-esque thriller, Poison Garden.

When Elise arrives home one day early from a trip, she finds her husband, Kieran, in their marital bed with another woman. He swears it was a one-time fling, but her neighbor, Chantal, tells her she has seen the woman sneaking into the house once before.

Elise also finds her herb store unlocked and in disorder. Did she really sleepwalk into the store the night before she left on her trip? Or is Kieran plotting to kill her with the poisonous plants kept in her shop? And what did he and his lover’s pillow talk about patience and playing the long game really mean?

The cat and mouse game between Elise and Kieran is the best part of the Poison Garden. You feel Elise’s shock at her husband’s betrayal deeply. You want to see her succeed in getting herself and her money away from him. Neighbor Chantal’s story is intriguing and adds depth to the plot.

Overall, the genuineness of the characters and the compelling plot forced me to stay up late to finish this book in one sitting. 4 stars!

Thanks to Lake Union Publishing and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.

Posted in Kindle Unlimited, Mystery & Thrillers, New Books Tagged with: ,

This Little Dark Place
October 11th, 2019 by diane92345

A mystery that meanders around with the pacing of a slice-of-life play (think Fences). I promise there is a crime involved eventually but it will take plenty of pages to get to it in This Little Dark Place.

Daniel and Victoria are trying to have a baby. It is not going well. Victoria throws herself into exercise. Daniel joins a prison pen pal program, where he meets an attempted murderer named Ruby. From there, their life starts spiraling downward.

I really disliked the pacing of This Little Dark Place. However, the plot and the characters forced me to keep reading to find out what was going to happen. We know something does because the book is a letter from Daniel to someone named Lucy. He is attempting to explain what happened. The biggest mystery is who is Lucy. Most of the other twists are pretty broadly foreshadowed. Overall, a compelling read that I still feel only deserves 3 stars from me.

Thanks to Serpent’s Tail and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.

Posted in Mystery & Thrillers, New Books Tagged with: ,

Stolen Things
August 22nd, 2019 by diane92345

What is the worst thing that 911 operator Laurie can hear on the job? Her sixteen-year-old daughter calling in saying “Mama? Help me.” Welcome to the adrenaline-fueled ride of Stolen Things. And you are only in chapter two.

The twists never let up in Stolen Things. It is an exhilarating and compelling race to the finish. Don’t start this book in the morning before work unless you are willing to hide out in the bathroom to finish it before the end of the day. It is that good. It is recommended for anyone who enjoys thrillers especially set within a family. 5 stars!

Thanks to Dutton Books and Edelweiss+ for a copy in exchange for my honest review.

Posted in Diane's Favorites, Mystery & Thrillers, New Books Tagged with: , ,

The Perfect Lie
August 12th, 2019 by diane92345

Former mean girl Claire appears to have it all. Married to her high school sweetheart. Two mostly perfect sons. Law partnership with her best friend Julia. But revenge is a dish best served cold when someone she wronged in high school with The Perfect Lie returns twenty years later to upset her perfect life.

Good psychological thriller about how one mistake can impact you and your loved ones a lifetime later. It is fun to see Claire try to upright the cascading dominos of her life in this revenge thriller. If you like thrillers pitting two strong leads against one another where it is not clear who to root for, you will enjoy The Perfect Lie. 4 stars!

Thanks to Aria Books and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.

Posted in Mystery & Thrillers, New Books Tagged with: ,

Theme Music
July 29th, 2019 by diane92345

Twenty-five years ago Dixie’s entire family was murdered by her father with an axe. Her father then proceeded to cut his own throat leaving eighteen-month-old Dixie alive in her high chair. The Theme Music playing was Baby Blue by Badfinger, which is a break-up song about the singer’s girlfriend also called Dixie.

When the house where the tragedy occurs goes up for sale, Dixie buys it over her boyfriend’s objections. She then starts going crazy.

The prologue is fantastic. The rest of the book was bloody, violent, and grim. If you enjoy shock scares in a horror film (the killer jumps out from behind the shower curtain with an axe), this may appeal to you. It didn’t do much for me and seemed surprisingly boring in a “just get to the plot” type of way. I’ll give Theme Music 3 stars from me but your enjoyment may vary.

Thanks to Dutton Books and Edelweiss+ for a copy in exchange for my honest review.

Posted in Horror, Mystery & Thrillers, New Books Tagged with: ,

Other Mrs. Miller
July 19th, 2019 by diane92345

Phoebe Miller is hiding inside of a wine bottle inside her house for a number of reasons at the beginning of the Other Mrs. Miller.

Phoebe’s father has recently died and left her his fortune. Unfortunately, his death has also triggered a very public outpouring of women accusing him of sexism, sexual harassment, and rape during his lifetime. Phoebe feels both embarrassed and somehow guilty at the same time.

Phoebe and her husband, Wyatt, have had difficulties with having a child. When Wyatt brings up adoption, Phoebe brusquely shuts him down. They are now more roommates than spouses.

There is a strange car frequently parked in front of Phoebe’s house. Phoebe begins to get paranoid that the petite driver is one of her father’s victims or a paparazzo.

When a new family moves in across the street, Phoebe is attracted to the eighteen-year-old son, Jake. But when she brings a housewarming gift, she soon becomes best friends with Jake’s mom, Vicki. Vicki has her own slew of baggage to bring to the table.

To say the Other Mrs. Miller is stuffed with plots would be an understatement. But it is hard not to sympathize with passive Phoebe’s problems. Phoebe seems to just let problems wash over her like a wave that she assumes will eventually recede. When Phoebe finally does an affirmative action to improve her life, fate takes another swipe at her.

The twists and turns of the plot are unexpected and fun like Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride at Disneyland. Though I love to try and determine a solution before the characters, I was way off for this book. And I love it! If you like extreme and unexpected plot twists in your domestic thrillers, this is the book for you. 5 stars!

Thanks to G.P. Putnam’s Sons and Edelweiss+ for a copy in exchange for my honest review.

Posted in Diane's Favorites, Mystery & Thrillers, New Books Tagged with: ,

Best Lies
July 9th, 2019 by diane92345

“The Best Lies are at least half true, she said, like it’s just a matter of mixing paint, two different colors swirling together until no one can tell where the truth ends and the lie begins, a new color emerging.”

Remy is seventeen and has issues. Her family is constantly fighting with divorce looking increasingly likely. Worse, her best friend Elise, always a prankster, has shot and killed Remy’s boyfriend, Jack. Elise claims it was an accident, but was it?

Best Lies is a good young adult thriller about families, friendships, and love. It has the usual young adult over-the-top’ness. Despite the DRAMA of living at seventeen depicted here, Remy, Elise, and Jack always seemed like real with real motives behind their actions. The only negative was the excessive smoking done by the two girls, which may send the wrong message to teen readers. Still a solid 3 star read!

Thanks to Simon Pulse and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.

Posted in Mystery & Thrillers, New Books, Teen & Young Adult Tagged with: ,

First Mistake
June 21st, 2019 by diane92345

Why wait for Reese Witherspoon’s stamp of approval? If you don’t snap up this jaw-dropping domestic thriller immediately, that would be your First Mistake.

Alice had the perfect marriage with Tom and their daughter, Sophie. They were starting an interior design company together. Then he died.

Now, Alice is married to Nathan. The company she owns is doing great. Nathan’s help with the finances is vital allowing Alice to focus solely on the designs.

Alice and Beth’s daughters attend the same school. Beth and Alice become best friends. Ten years earlier, Beth’s lover left her and their daughter for another woman so the two women bond over their shared losses of their daughters’ biological fathers.

As with the author’s first thriller, The Other Woman, First Mistake starts out slow. But once the dominoes of Alice’s life start falling, the surprises don’t stop until the startling conclusion. If you like domestic thrillers where nothing is as it seems, you must read this book. It has great characters and the best plot twists I’ve seen for a while. 4.5 stars!

Thanks to Minotaur Books and NetGalley for an advanced copy in exchange for my honest review.

Posted in Mystery & Thrillers, New Books Tagged with: ,

Man of the Year
June 19th, 2019 by diane92345

What happens when the Man of the Year begins to suspect his wife is cheating on him?

Dr. Robert Hart has it all. His job is rewarding—both emotionally and financially. Robert’s latest marriage, to Elizabeth, is happy. His son, Jonah, has turned his life around and is once again succeeding in college. He is named Sag Harbor’s Man of the Year. But then Jonah’s struggling college roommate, Nick, takes up residence in Robert’s guest house for the summer.

Robert slowly begins to believes his wife and Nick are having an affair. His response begins with insignificant lies that soon spiral out of control.

Told in first person by Robert, Jonah and Elizabeth alternately, Man of the Year is an addicting tale. It is an engaging tale of paranoia but just because you’re paranoid, doesn’t mean they aren’t out to get you. If you like domestic psychological thrillers, this is a good example of the genre. 4 stars!

Thanks to Gallery Books and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.

Posted in Mystery & Thrillers, New Books Tagged with: ,

Mother-in-law
April 24th, 2019 by diane92345

The Mother-in-law is a fine domestic thriller that also touches on some hot button social topics.

Lucy’s mother-in-law, Diana, is not her favorite person though she adores her father-in-law, Tom. Diana is not demonstrative, even toward her two children, Ollie and Nettie. She is more concerned with her work with poor immigrants. When Diana dies, Lucy, and much of the family, is clearly the focus of the police’s inquiries.

The Mother-in-law was a good domestic thriller. However, I guessed the killer before I was 10% into the book. I sped through the rest of it to see if I was right and was irrational upset when I was. The killer seemed obvious to me but you may want a mystery that is easy to solve while on a vacation or relaxing before bed so 3 stars.

Thanks to St. Martin’s Press and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.

Posted in Mystery & Thrillers, New Books Tagged with: ,

Saving Meghan
April 10th, 2019 by diane92345

Why does fifteen-year-old Meghan seem so sick when doctors can find nothing wrong with her? Despite a disinterested husband and questioning doctors, Becky, Meghan’s mother, is intent on Saving Meghan.

Becky was raised by Cora, her mother, to be able to mimic disease symptoms to achieve Cora’s goal—getting government disability checks. When Meghan also starts to have undiagnosed symptoms, Carl becomes suspicious that Becky is falling back on old habits and causing Meghan’s illness. Eventually even Meghan’s doctors suspect the mental disease Munchausen by Proxy, where a mother gets attention by causing her child’s illness. Is Meghan really sick or is someone causing her symptoms?

While the book basically hits the reader over the head with Becky’s beauty and manipulation skill, the author is quietly manipulating the reader to believe everyone in turn is causing Meghan’s illness. In addition, none of the characters are sympathetic so if that bothers you, you will not enjoy this book. However, what bothered me the most was the overly dramatic turns in the plot especially the conclusion that was just thrown in at the end without much foreshadowing. The first half of the book was great but then it went downhill for me. Nevertheless, if you like family suspense with a big chunk of medical drama, you will probably enjoy Saving Meghan. 4 stars!

Thanks to St. Martin’s Press and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.

Posted in Mystery & Thrillers, New Books Tagged with: , ,

Never Tell
March 25th, 2019 by diane92345

Another awesome entry in the Sergeant Detective D.D. Warren series. Both D.D. and Flora Dane have a past connection to a new murder case in Never Tell.

Evie is happily married to Conrad and four months pregnant with their first child. Coming home after work, she finds Conrad shot dead in his study. Something on his laptop disturbs her so much that she calmly picks up the murder weapon and shoots the computer twelve times. The police find her holding the gun and arrest her for murder.

Evie was D.D.’s first murder case sixteen years earlier. Evie had shot her father. Her only comment, “It was an accident. An unfortunate accident.” Evie was not charged.

Flora Dane, now working as D.D.’s confidential informant, recognizes the victim, Conrad, from her days with her abductor, Jacob. What secrets are hiding behind Evie’s and Conrad’s seemingly normal facade?

Never Tell is another gripping thriller by Lisa Gardner. Told from the viewpoint of Evie, D.D., and Flora, Flora’s sections were the ones I was racing toward. Flora describes more of what happened to her during her abduction. In addition, Flora shows almost a human side in this book, which is nice to see.

While this book is a highly recommended thriller, I would suggest strongly to read Find Her, where Flora Dane’s story is initially told, before reading this one. It will increase your understanding of Flora’s story (plus it’s a great book on its own).  With that sole caveat, Never Tell is highly recommended to all thriller lovers. You won’t be disappointed! 5 stars!

Thanks to Dutton Books and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for an honest review.

Posted in Diane's Favorites, Mystery & Thrillers Tagged with: , ,

House on Fire
March 12th, 2019 by diane92345

In House on Fire, Leigh and Pete are returning home early from their fifth wedding anniversary trip when they get a call from Leigh’s fourteen-year-old daughter, Chrissy. She is calling from the police station, where her stepbrother, Pete’s eighteen-year-old son Kip, is in custody.

Kip was planning on spending the weekend with friends beginning with a party celebrating Kip’s acceptance into Duke University. After drinking and smoking a bit, Kip is surprised by Chrissy’s appearance at the gathering. She bicycled there after learning that their parents are returning home early in just a few minutes. Kip hadn’t pre-approved his weekend plans or borrowing his dad’s truck to get to the party so he desperately needed to get home before his parents.

Kip puts her bicycle in Kip’s dad’s truck and they drive home together. During the drive, they swerve off the road into a ditch and a tree while trying to avoid hitting a dog.

When the police arrive, they arrest Kip for driving under the influence. When Chrissy later dies, the charge of manslaughter is added. Kip changes his story and states that Chrissy was driving the night of the accident.

House on Fire was fantastic until the wave of amazing coincidences at the conclusion. Describing them would be a major spoiler. However, I can’t rate this book higher than 3 stars.

Thanks to Atria Books and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for an honest review.

Posted in Mystery & Thrillers Tagged with: ,

Beautiful Bad
March 10th, 2019 by diane92345

Beautiful Bad tells the story of Maddie and Ian’s relationship that ended in murder.

The story starts with a bang: a female calls 911, a child screams in the background and the call is abruptly cut off.  When police arrive, they find a large bloodstain on the open concept kitchen’s floor. From that scene, we are shown the story of Maddie and Ian’s relationship from the beginning through the day of the killing and forward.

Within Beautiful Bad, the day of the killing sections were fantastic. Unfortunately, you had to slog through a lot of details to get to them. While the end is twisty, it probably won’t be much of a surprise to experienced thriller readers. 3 stars.

Thanks to Park Row and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for an honest review.

Posted in Mystery & Thrillers Tagged with: ,