Book Reviews

My Book Reviews for April 2022

My Book Reviews for April 2022

My book reviews for April 2022 are all for NetGalley titles I had the privilege of reading in exchange for independent reviews. They comprise thrillers and literary titles, and some are a bit of both. I would like to thank the authors, publishers and NetGalley for the opportunity to read copies prior to their publication.

Into the Dark by Fiona Cummins

This is a sinister, suspenseful novel that reminded me of a Mark Billingham book I read. (See my review of Their Little Secret here.) Both books dip into the heads of some unsavoury characters.

And the unsavoury character count in Into the Dark is pretty high. A least one of the investigating officers is a murderer and was once apprentice to a serial killer. (Midtown-on-Sea Police might want to review their recruitment procedures.)

The Holden family has disappeared. Piper Holden’s best friend, Julienne, makes the discovery when she goes to the house to meet Piper for their morning run. Cereal is in bowls on the kitchen table, coffee is brewing, four mobile phones are charging and family cars are in the drive. Julienne alerts the police and a twisty, wicked tale ensues. It is told from various viewpoints across a timeline that dots back and forth from a few months before the disappearances to a few days afterwards. Despite this apparent complexity, the reader never feels lost as Fiona Cummins securely signposts where we are at all times.

An aptly titled literary thriller that goes from dark to even darker.

 

Out of her Depth Lizzy Barber

Working-class Rachel takes a summer job as a maid at a boutique hotel in Florence to improve her Italian prior to taking up a place at Cambridge. She gets in with the decadent ex-apt set and becomes enthralled by manipulative and cruel Diana and handsome Sebastian. Twenty years later, Diana is still fabulously wealthy and now a London-based yummy mummy of three. Rachel, a teacher at a boarding school, stalks her on social media, and Sebastian is appealing against his twenty-year prison sentence for murder. Told from Rachel’s viewpoint, we slowly see how things went horribly wrong that fateful summer and how she seems to have learnt nothing in the intervening years. Deliciously evocative of a balmy summer in Tuscany but with a sense of menace never far away.

Ideal for fans of long, slow-burn literary thrillers.

 

The Cove by Alice Clark-Platts

A domestic noir in an exotic location.

Ideal for readers who like their thrillers on the literary side.

 

The Caretakers by Amanda Bestor-Siegal

A series of well-written character studies of au pairs and families in a Paris suburb.

Ideal for fans of literary fiction.

 

First Born by Will Dean

Risk-averse, neurotic Molly is forced to take a transatlantic flight after receiving a desperate phone call from her parents. They are in New York to visit Molly’s twin sister, Katie, but they’ve found their daughter dead in bed.

Molly becomes an unlikely sleuth, rooting out various suspects, until the story spins off in a different direction. Being a reader of devious mind, I second-guessed the twists. I read way too much….

The author paints a vivid picture of modern-day New York.

 

So that’s all for my book reviews for April 2022 publications, but here’s a review I posted last year on NetGalley, but somehow failed to put on my blog.

Tall Bones by Anna Bailey

The story is set in modern-day, small-town America although it feels more like the Wild West with its nineteenth-century prejudices, violence, brutality and fundamentalism. This is a dark story with little light until, perhaps, the redemption of one character towards the end.

The Blakes are a dysfunctional family who become a whole lot more dysfunctional after daughter Abi disappears. Her best friend, 17-year-old Emma – who was the last one to see Abi before she went into the Tall Bones woods to meet a boy – takes it upon herself to investigate the crime when the sheriff’s office gets nowhere. But with a surname like Alvarez, and all the anti-Mexican racism that comes with it, no one wants to help her. Despite the bullying she faces, Emma starts to uncover some ugly truths not only about Abi but about the town itself. Unsurprisingly, folks want her to stop sleuthing and she is soon in danger.

The story has several viewpoint characters, including Emma, Abi’s mother and brothers, a posh boy drug dealer and the son of the town preacher. There are two timelines: a few months before Abi’s disappearance and the first month afterwards.

A suspenseful, well-plotted story that became a Sunday Times bestseller.

By Rachel Sargeant

Rachel Sargeant is a British author. Her latest thriller, The Roommates, is a Closer Magazine "Must Read". Her other titles are The Good Teacher, The Perfect Neighbours and Gallipoli: Year of Love and Duty. Rachel won Writing Magazine’s Crime Short Story competition and has been shortlisted in various competitions including the Bristol Short Story Prize. She was born in Lincolnshire and is a graduate of Aberystwyth University. She now lives in Gloucestershire with her husband and children.

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