Rowan finds her dream nanny job on a remote Scottish estate updated with all the modern smart home fixtures in the Turn of the Key.
The book is a series of letters to Rowan’s prospective attorney while she is in jail awaiting her murder charge to be adjudicated. It explains her side of what happened at the estate.
I listened to this book on Audible. It was a fantastic and compelling listen. I live near Los Angeles. I face start and stop traffic driving to and from work but this book made the hours fly by. This book is a modern gothic tale where you want to scream at the heroine, “Don’t go into that room!” just like those old fashioned gothics like Rebecca and anything by Mary Stewart. The less you know of the plot, the better to appreciate the frequent twists and turns interspersed freely within Turn of the Key. I do have to commend the narrator, Imogen Church. Never once was I confused who was talking thanks to her work with varying the characters’ speech patterns and accents.
Overall, highly recommended to mystery, but not thriller, fans. If you like gothic-style mysteries, so much the better. 4.5 stars!
Posted in Audiobooks, Mystery & Thrillers Tagged with: Aug 6 2019, gothic, mystery
A Dangerous Collaboration between Veronica and Stoker’s brother, the Viscount, result in a much more gothic entry in the series.
Veronica Speedwell is not your typical Victorian woman. She doesn’t believe in marriage but does believe in male companionship. Veronica has a career as a lepidopterist, or butterfly researcher. She has a flirtatious relationship with her work partner, Stoker.
In Victorian London, Veronica Speedwell is leaving her partner, Stoker, behind to search for exotic butterflies on Madeira, a remote island in the Atlantic Ocean. Lady Cordelia agreed to travel with Veronica as a vacation of sorts.
When they return, Stoker’s brother has a task for Veronica to complete. The Viscount Tiberius asks Veronica to go with him and retrieve a rare butterfly’s larvae on St. Maddern’s Isle. On the way to the island, the Viscount states that their host on the island, Malcolm, is religious and they must pose as an engaged couple.
Once they arrive, Malcolm’s true motive becomes apparent. He wants them to solve the mystery of his bride’s disappearance three years earlier. To do so, they call on Stoker for help.
I adore this series. In, I missed the usual banter between Veronica and Stoker. I wasn’t feeling the Viscount’s flirtation. What happened to the bro code? I did enjoy the atmosphere on the island especially the gothic castle and its poison garden. All fans of the series must read A Dangerous Collaboration as it advances the overarching story plus it is great fun. 5 stars!
Thanks to Berkley Books and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for an honest review.
Posted in Mystery & Thrillers Tagged with: gothic, Mar 12 2019, series
With insane killers imprisoned in a castle fortress rumored to house the Devil himself and a brutal serial killer terrorizing nearby Prague, the Devil Aspect has plenty of plot and a whole lot of creepy, gothic atmosphere.
It is 1935 in a rural village outside Prague. A new psychotherapist arrives at a mysterious castle, an insane asylum that houses the six most dangerous killers in Czechoslovakia. The therapist, Victor, has a theory that all evil comes from the Devil Aspect in each of us. Once under control, the desire to kill will be conquered. However, when talking to the inmates each states that someone who looked like the Devil did their crimes. Victor believes that their subconscious is attempting to deal with their guilt by disassociating themselves from their crimes.
In a parallel story set in Prague, a serial killer is menacing the populace. Kapitan Lukas thinks he has found the killer through forensic evidence but his suspect insists that another person, who looks just like the Devil, committed the murders.
The book has several sub-plots. Nazis are beginning to make themselves felt in newly formed Czechoslovakia. Victor’s love interest, Judita, a Jew who is deeply worried about the mood in her adopted country. The villagers are convinced that the castle covers a warren of tunnels that lead to the gates of Hell.
There is a lot going on in the Devil Aspect. Despite that, it is a compelling and quick moving read. It is highly recommended to horror fans looking for a more psychological slant. 4 stars!
Thanks to Doubleday Books and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for an honest review.
Posted in Horror, Mystery & Thrillers Tagged with: gothic, Mar 5 2019, Nazis
In Au Pair, twins Seraphine and Danny are born and the same day their mother throws herself off a cliff saying they took my baby. The twins have an older sibling, Danny, who was also a twin. His brother, Theo, fell off the cliff two years earlier.
Year later, their father is killed in a tragic accident. While going through his papers, Seraphine finds a photograph dated with her birthdate of both their parents, Edwin, but only one of the twins. When she asks Edwin if he remembers which twin is pictured, he doesn’t know but that his au pair, Laura, took the picture.
Seraphine decides to find Laura. However, when she eventually finds her, she won’t talk.
The Au Pair is a suspenseful thriller with a laid back southern gothic vibe. The reader is compelled to keep reading to find out what really happened on the day of Seraphine and Danny’s birth.
The style of alternating chapters of Seraphine’s current search for answers and Laura’s experiences in the month leading up to the births is a great way to ratchet up the tension. The conclusion is excellent too. Overall, the Au Pair is recommended for all thriller and romantic suspense fans. 4 stars!
Thanks to Berkley for an advance copy in exchange for an honest review.
Posted in Mystery & Thrillers Tagged with: gothic, Jan 8 2019
Cuckoo is an atmospheric gothic mystery set in a rural English house, where even the heroine doubts her sanity. Is she hallucinating? Are ghosts present or is it her memories coming back of her horrible childhood?
Caro is a starving artist in London when she is informed her stepmother has died. Caro and her older sister Steph will inherit the entire estate once it leaves probate. Steph, now a wealthy New Yorker, gives her share to Caro. Caro, soon to be homeless in London, decides to move into her old family home to clear out her stepmother’s paperwork and personal items. While in the house, a snowstorm forces her to stay inside where her memories of her hateful stepmother during her childhood return with a vengeance.
Cuckoo is reminiscent of golden age mystery writers like Mary Roberts Rinehart with her Had I But Known school of naive and trusting narrators. Caro total lack of faith in herself and continual bad choices began to annoy me around the midpoint. Basically, the clues were all there in plain sight but Caro just ignored them all. I did enjoy the dark English folk and fairy tales sprinkled throughout the book. I googled some of them and they are real—no wonder the English have such stiff upper lips if this is how they entertain their children!
If you enjoy slow-burning gothic reads with most of the action in the unreliable narrator’s head, you will enjoy reading Cuckoo. For me, the annoyingly dense heroine and an obvious twist makes this a 3 star read for me.
Thanks to the publisher, Avon Books UK, and NetGalley for an advance copy in exchange for an honest review.
Posted in Mystery & Thrillers Tagged with: gothic, Nov 29 2018
Accomplished dual mysteries wrapped in an artful gothic atmosphere. Go to My Grave tells the story of two parties that went horribly wrong.
“They were terrified. Every last one of them.”
Donna and her mother spent their last dime opening The Breakers, a bed and every meal (rather than just breakfast), on the Galloway coast. Kim decides to have a surprise tenth anniversary party there with her husband Sasha and his six cousins. Little does she know that Sasha and his cousins spent another harrowing weekend there 25 years earlier.
When someone begins leaving hints of what happened at the long ago birthday party, the cousins start to fall apart. Their pledge of keeping it in a box, stitching their lips and going to their grave with it clearly forgotten.
Alternating between telling the tales of the anniversary party and the birthday party 25 years before, Go to My Grave has some extremely creepy atmosphere. There are several possible endings for each tale making the mystery intriguing. Some of the slang used was unique. Neither my Kindle nor I could figure some of them out.
Overall, Go to My Grave is a first-rate gothic mystery for the windy fall days around Halloween. Perfect for mystery fans who want a touch of dread in their books. 4 stars!
Thanks to Minotaur Books and NetGalley for an advance copy.
Posted in Mystery & Thrillers Tagged with: family drama, gothic, Oct 23 2018