The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley

BLOG“All of them are friends. One of them is a killer.”

A few days at an idyllic and isolated estate in the Scottish Highlands sounds like a great way to welcome the New Year. At least that is what it seemed like to a group of old college friends who had developed a tradition of getting together during that time of the year. Now that their lives have gone in different directions it has become the one time that they can all be together as a group. But fairly soon upon arrival it becomes clear that long held resentments are creeping up to the surface and that their friendship may have reached an expiry date, or maybe they were never quite friends at all.

They arrive on December 30th. Two days later, one of them is dead, and one of them is a killer.

“Some people, given just the right amount of pressure, taken out of their usual, comfortable environments, don’t need much encouragement at all to become monsters. And sometimes you just get a strong sense about people, and you can’t explain it; you simply know it, in some deeper part of yourself.”

As a fan of closed circle mysteries, the premise for The Hunting Party is one I am very much drawn to. And in anticipation of the author’s upcoming book, The Guest List, I had to give this one a go. Unfortunately it did not end up working for me at all. The story is told through multiple perspectives and jumps back and forth in time, from the moment of arrival and present day, gradually making its way to the reveal. The format itself is fine but I don’t know if it was the best choice here. There are many characters (arguably too many) but we get the point of view of five of them: two in present day, and three from two days prior to the murder. Considering it is a story about a group of friends, this felt off to me, and as a result there are many characters that feel one-dimensional and completely forgettable. I feel that having less characters and all of their points of view presented would have worked much better, adding to the suspense. Continue reading “The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley”

The Lost Man by Jane Harper

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“Life out here is hard. We all try to get through the best way we can. But trust me, there’s not a single person here who isn’t lying to themselves about something.”

Jane Harper has fast become one of my favourite mystery/thriller authors, and each book I have read so far has left me eagerly anticipating her next release. The Lost Man is a standalone novel that takes the reader to the Australian outback, where a death that occurred in the unforgiving heat brings to light many long buried secrets. The discovery of Cameron Bright’s body brings shock to a town that held him in good regard, and most troubling is the fact that he was found dead of dehydration nine miles away from his truck. As someone who knew better than to wander out on his own in the scorching heat, it is assumed that the death is a suicide. However, his older brother Nathan is not convinced. Only by facing his past and their troubled childhood will he find the answers he is searching for. Continue reading “The Lost Man by Jane Harper”

I Found You by Lisa Jewell

IMG_5921“In a windswept British seaside town, single mom Alice Lake finds a man sitting on the beach outside her house. He has no name, no jacket, and no idea how he got there. Against her better judgment, she invites him inside.”

A man with no memory of who he is. A single mother who takes him in against her better judgment. A young newlywed whose husband has gone missing. And a two decade old tragedy that comes to surface. These components create an intriguing mystery that captivates as it seamlessly travels between different perspectives and time periods.

Alice is a single mother living in a British seaside town, and one day notices a man sitting on the beach outside her home. She soon discovers that he has no idea who he is or where he comes from, and with much trepidation, she decides to invite him in.

During this time, in London, twenty-one-year-old Lily Monrose is desperate to find her missing husband who failed to come home from work. Having been married only three weeks and new to the country, she is very much alone, and soon learns from the police that her husband never existed.

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Twenty-three years prior these events, young teens Kirsty and Gray are at their cottage for the summer holidays, when young man starts paying extra attention to Kirsty. This leaves Gray very uncomfortable. There is something about the situation, and this man, that simply does not seem right.

I Found You is a compelling novel with interesting characters, and is very easy to get lost in. Each perspective and timeline is intriguing in its own way and the pieces assemble quite nicely to reveal the big picture. If you enjoy mystery and character driven novels, this is a great choice. I wouldn’t go into it expecting a fast-paced thriller with lots of twists and turns because it could be end up being disappointing. Overall, a well-written and page-turning novel that is definitely worth a read.

Bring Her Home by David Bell

IMG_5174“It felt like one of those dreams, the kind he’d been having too often lately. In the dreams, he’d open his mouth to scream but could make no sound. And the very act of trying to force words out made his throat feel as if he’d swallowed broken glass.”

A year and a half after the tragic death of his wife, Bill is faced with another tragedy: the disappearance of his daughter, Summer and her best friend, Haley. The two girls are found days later in a city park, with Summer terribly injured and Haley pronounced dead at the scene. Bill is determined to find out what happened, and whether the girl found alive is indeed his daughter. The events that led up to the horrific crime are unclear and the question of who is responsible leads Bill to unexpected answers and unearths long held secrets.

Bring Her Home is a pretty solid crime thriller. It has plenty of twists and turns that takes the reader on a roller coaster of a ride as the truth is slowly revealed. There is a lot of action and the story moves at a fast pace with very short, quick chapters that propel the events forward. I do wish that the main character was slightly more relatable and easier to connect to, and at times I would have liked longer chapters in order to get more into the story, which is usually my preference as a reader. Overall it is an entertaining read, and if you enjoy fast paced storytelling with a lot of twists to keep you guessing, Bring Her Home is a good thriller option.

*Book provided by publisher for an unbiased review.

Dead Letters by Caite Dolan-Leach

BLOG“People must be terrified of losing all mystery. No one wants the complete picture, the whole story. It would leave no room for the fictions we need to tell ourselves about ourselves.”

Ava Antipova has always wanted to run away, and after a deep betrayal she finally sets off for Paris where she makes her home and creates a new life. However, the news of her twin sister Zelda’s death leaves her in shock, bringing her back to her childhood home and reuniting her with her troubled and fractured family. Ava feels things are not quite right and she cannot shake off her suspicions. She soon begins to receive letters and messages from Zelda herself that are clues to her whereabouts, leading Ava on a scavenger hunt to find her sister and the truth.

“I realize that I’m again filling in the chinks with fantasies, stuffing the cracks of absence with stories.”

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Dead Letters is a page-turning mystery that captured my attention from the first paragraph right up to the last page. The novel starts off with Ava telling the story of her and her sister, Zelda’s birth and how they received their names, which provides a great introduction to these two characters. The family in the story is deeply troubled and dysfunctional and it is not one of those books where you necessarily like the characters, but instead it is about being drawn into their chaotic world and anticipating as to how it will all unfold. I very much enjoyed the writing in this novel and the tone the author sets, which is a perfect balance of introspective and sarcastic. Overall, a compelling mystery that ponders our relationships with others and our relationship with ourselves.

“We sit quietly and I’m unsure of what else to say. We are in dangerous territory; we could reminisce, savouring the memories of when it was good. Get lost in what it was like to be young and stupid in love. But that would overwrite how things became, and how we left them.”