Friday, 3 April 2020

Review Round-Up: Eight Perfect Murders by Peter Swanson, Follow Me by Kathleen Barber & You Are Not Alone by Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen.




Malcom Kershaw appreciates the riddle of a good mystery more than most. As the co-owner of Old Devils, a bookshop specialising in the crime and mystery genre, Mal has experienced enough red herrings and plot twists to last him a lifetime. These days, Mal can anticipate those so-called unexpected plot twists long before they actually occur on the page. It’s all left him a little jaded, truth be told. Mal is definitely one of those hard-to-please readers who never finds a happy in any ending. 

It’s a good thing then that FBI agent Gwen Mulvey has come along to brighten up Mal’s day with some real life unsolved murders – murders which are seemingly linked to a long-forgotten blog post of Mal’s entitled ‘Eight Perfect Murders.’ Like most bloggers, Mal assumes that people don’t actually take the time to read his blog, much less pay attention to it, but somebody does…and that somebody has murder in mind.

In a sometimes crowded genre, Peter Swanson stands out as a writer who delivers every time - and has fun while doing so. While Swanson is a writer who unashamedly wears his influences on his sleeve, most notably in 2015’s The Kind Worth Killing, his work finds originality in both richly-drawn characters (I’ll never forget Lily Kintner) and in intricately-woven plotlines that make for a truly pleasurable reading experience.

Fans of crime classics such as Patricia Highsmith’s Strangers on a Train and Agatha Christie’s A.B.C. Murders will savour some delicious twists as they accompany unassuming Mal (who has a few secrets of his own!) and Agent Gwen Mulvey (who, you guessed it, is harbouring a few secrets too!) as they strive to uncover the face behind a series of seemingly perfect murders.


Four Stars
Published March 3rd 2020 by William Morrow
Purchased


*****



Audrey Miller is living the dream. A successful Instagram influencer, with one million followers and counting, Audrey has just scored her dream job as social media manager at the Smithsonian. Sure, her new job means that Audrey will have to up roots from New York to D.C., but Audrey is up for the challenge, and while D.C. may not be as ‘grammable as NYC, Audrey is sure that the city has its charms. Unfortunately, those charms do not include Audrey’s new apartment, which is basement level, with a broken lock, and a creepy upstairs neighbour to boot. No matter. Audrey’s not the kind of girl to let such trivialities get her down. After all, she’s got more important things to worry about – like keeping her online fans happy. Gotta update the ‘gram.

Follow Me opens with an author’s note that piqued my interest and got me thinking about my own online behaviour: the takeaway being that I really should place a sticker over my webcam. Audrey Miller needs to do the same. Though Audrey is tech savvy, she is not entirely internet safe, often revealing personal information, along with her real-time whereabouts. It’s no surprise that among her one million followers, Audrey has accumulated the usual bots and trolls. Unfortunately for her, Audrey has also acquired a stalker, one who knows where she lives…One who sneaks into her apartment at night and watches her sleep…

Ugh. Creepy! 

An entertaining thriller with an excellent premise, Follow Me kept me guessing right till the end, with multiple suspects to choose from and a whole lot of red herrings too. While, for me, a lot of thrillers fall flat right at the end, I’m pleased to say that this one didn’t. The ending is unconventional and even fun – in a very twisted kind of way.

Read it if you liked YOU by Caroline Kepnes.


3.5 stars
Published February 25th 2020 by Gallery Books
Received for review

*****





Shay Miller’s life is in freefall. Ever since Shay witnessed a suicide on a subway platform, her life has gone from already bad to even worse. For one, since she witnessed the suicide, Shay hasn’t been able to bring herself to take the subway, which has impacted her already not-so-great career prospects. Secondly, Shay can’t get the dead woman, a nurse called Amanda Evinger, out of her head. Shay goes so far as to attend the Amanda’s memorial service, in order to hopefully gain some closure, but it doesn’t work. Worse still, Shay feels entirely alone in the city that never sleeps. She eats alone. Sleeps alone. Shay has no one to turn to. No one to talk to. 

Enter the Moore sisters. Savvy, successful and stylish, Jane and Cassandra Moore are everything that Shay is not – and everything she wishes she could be. When Shay meets the sisters at the memorial service for their friend, Amanda, she is charmed by their warmth and grace. When Jane and Cassandra extend an offer of friendship, Shay is flattered, quickly accepting any and all social invitations that come her way. Jane and Cassandra go above and beyond in their friendship with Shay, treating her to fun makeovers and lavishing her with expensive gifts. But to what end? And why, when she looks in the mirror lately, does Shay see Amanda Evinger staring back at her?

It seems that Shay has started living Amanda Evinger’s life. She’s even living in the dead woman’s apartment. Shay is not quite sure how that happened, and as for the blood-stained clothes on the floor, she has no idea where those came from. But Shay is sure that her new friends, the Moore sisters, will help. Only problem is, Jane and Cassandra Moore are no longer taking Shay’s calls….

While not as deliciously twisty as their debut, The Wife Between Us, Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen nevertheless kept me invested – and certainly kept me guessing - with this expertly-plotted and often surprising tale of sisterhood, obsession and revenge. 


3.5 Stars
Published March 3rd 2020 by St. Martin's Press
Received for review

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