Check It Out!

Staff recommendations and reviews from the Plainfield Public Library


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In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth

Leonora “Nora” Shaw is surprised to be invited to  Claire’s hen weekend (British slang for bachelorette party) and reluctantly agrees to go since her friend Nina will also be attending. Nina, Claire and Nora are childhood friends, but Nora hasn’t seen Claire since she was sixteen, which was over ten years ago, when Nora left school abruptly and never turned back. The Hen party is hosted by Flo, Claire’s maid of honor, at her aunt’s remote house in a wooded area in the middle of nowhere where there is no cell reception.

The weekend gets off to an odd start with Flo’s insistence that the guests play along with her plans so it’s the perfect weekend. To make matters worse, Nora learns that the only reason she was invited to the hen, as Nora didn’t even get a wedding invite, was so Claire could tell her in person that her husband-to-be is their fellow schoolmate and Nora’s ex, James. Devastated, although the reader doesn’t quite know what secrets she is holding yet, Nora’s goal is just to get through this weekend and get home.

But, things turn even weirder when on Saturday night, an innocent game turns into a scary premonition of future events and footprints in the snow suggest that someone is watching them. Nora ends up in the hospital covered in blood and the author unfolds the story by going back and forth between what happened leading up to Nora’s hospitalization and a murder at the house.

Murder, twists and lots of suspicion make for an engrossing page-turner in Ware’s debut psychological thriller. To be honest, I liked this one even better than her new novel The Woman in Cabin 10Be on the lookout for Ware’s next thriller, The Lying Game, out later this year.

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Into the Water by Paula Hawkins

On the surface, the small village of Beckford is just a sleepy little town beside a river. But the river has always held some secrets, and has long been the source of a strange fascination for Nel Abbott. Nel is a single mom who grew up in the village, and she’s been working on a book about the river and its sordid past – the drowning of witches, the Drowning Pool, the suicides. When Nel herself is found in the river,  her estranged sister Jules returns to the village to care for Lena, Nel’s teenage daughter, whose best friend was also recently found in the river.  Jules finds herself caught between her duty to Lena and her memories of the past, as the mysteries of the two women’s deaths are unraveled.

In Beckford, Ms. Hawkins has created a creepily atmospheric little village where virtually everyone could have “done it”.  Although uneven in spots, there’s enough intrigue in the story to keep you reading. You might need a character chart though. There are a lot of people in the story – all of them unreliable, and it gets tricky at times to keep track. Definitely well worth reading if you enjoy the psychological genre.


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The Woman In Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware

British travel journalist for Velocity magazine, Laura “Lo” Blacklock, is asked to write up a piece about the Scandinavian boutique cruiseliner, the Aurora Borealis.  Although she is skiddish from an assault by a burglar in her flat, she isn’t going to say no to this important career opportunity. There are only 10 cabins on the ship, and the passengers are wealthy acquaintances of owner Richard Bullmer as well as Lo’s ex and coworker, Ben, who now works for another travel mag.

When getting ready for dinner, she realizes she forgot her mascara and knocks on cabin 10. The beautiful, young woman who answers gives her a mascara and tells her to keep it. Later that night back in her cabin, Lo hears a scream and a splash, which she believes was a body being thrown out of the ship. She reports it to hotel security but the room is now clear and the blood she saw on the privacy screen between their verandas has been wiped clean. To make matter’s worst, she is informed that Cabin was never occupied and the woman she describes has never been seen on the ship. No one is taking her seriously, especially when it leaks out that Lo takes anti-depressants and was drinking a little too much that evening.

Lo believes what she heard and begins to investigate on her own, not knowing who of the ship’s passengers and crew she can trust.  Even the threats she receives threats to “stop digging” won’t halt her determination to fight for the woman she knows she saw. But going too far might cost Lo her very own life.

An over-the-top cruise ship sailing on Norwegian waters is the perfect environment for Ware’s dark novel of psychological suspense.  Although I felt the ending was a bit unbelievable, readers of The Girl on the Train will find The Woman In Cabin 10 to be very much to their taste and should also try The Girl Before by JP Delaney.


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The Widow by Fiona Barton

JacketThe docile widow, Jean Taylor who lost Glen when he was mysteriously hit by a bus, is finally ready to tell her story. She has been coerced by Daily Post reporter Kate Waters to give her the exclusive on a high profile story that has been played out in the media for years. Jean stood by her husband through it all, but she may know more than she is letting on.

A toddler goes missing; snagged right out of the front garden of her home. Detective Sparkes’ investigation leads him to Glen Taylor, who had a delivery in the area where baby Bella was taken. Officials learn about Glen’s interest in child porn and are convinced he is their suspect. But without a body and evidence, there may not be enough to convict.

The story unfolds between the narratives of the Kate, DI Sparkes, and Jean and goes back and forth in time from present day to the events leading up to Glen’s death.

This dark page turner will appeal to readers of psychological suspense such as Mary Kubica and Chevy Stevens.


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Find Her by Lisa Gardner

As a young college student, Flora Dane was kidnapped and held for 472 days. Locked in a box and completely broken down, Flora has worked hard after her release to take back control of her life – taking self-defense classes, learning everything she can about personal safety. But even with the support of her loving family and her FBI victim advocate, Flora knows she’s not the same girl she used to be. There are just some things she can’t let go…

Boston Detective D.D. Warren meets Flora at the scene of a crime – a dead man and Flora, who killed him. But was it self-defense or vigilante justice? As D.D. tries to track down the answers, the answer to this question becomes less clear. And when Flora herself goes missing, the investigation takes another turn – is Flora on the run or has she been taken? What is her connection to another missing woman?

The latest in the Det. D.D. Warren seriesFind Her is perfect for you if you like your suspense dark and twisty. It will definitely keep keep you up late – I didn’t want to put it down! And even though it’s part of a series, you don’t need to have read the others to enjoy the book – although after you finish it, you’ll probably want to back and read the rest. Lisa Gardner is a new author for me, and I can’t wait to do just that!

 

 


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The Silent Sister by Diane Chamberlain

School counselor Riley MacPherson is back in her hometown of New Bern, North Carolina to clear out the house and take care of things after the death of her father. Her brother Danny, who shattered his leg in Iraq and now lives in an old trailer on the family’s RV park, has lots of bitterness and isn’t much help. She learns of an old friend of her mother’s, Jeannie, who is eager to help with an estate sale and the selling of the house.

In the midst of the arduous process of going through her dad’s collections, she sneaks a look in a box that Jeannie was trying to take out of the house. Inside are newspaper clippings about her deceased sister, Lisa, who died when Riley was only a toddler. All she was ever told was that Lisa, a prodigy violinist, was depressed and committed suicide, but the newspaper clippings reveal a different story.

Lisa was about to face going to trial for the murder of her violin instructor. Her kayak was found in the frigid Potomac river and a suicide note in her bedroom, but no body was ever discovered. Riley wonders if her sister might still be alive, especially when a couple at the RV park suggest that might be the case.

Riley is determined to find the sister she never knew, but her search might put Lisa in jeopardy if she is indeed still alive and living under a different identity. At every turn a new secret is revealed about her family in this page-turning novel, making Riley and readers wonder if she ever really knew her family at all. This is the first book I’ve read by the prolific Chamberlain, and is one I would enthusiastically recommend.


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The Couple Next Door by Shari Lepena

Anne and Marco have been invited to their next door neighbors house for a birthday dinner. Anne doesn’t want to go because the babysitter canceled but Marco insists that their six month old baby, Cora, will be fine alone. Anne agrees after they decide to check on her ever half hour and they have the baby monitor.

They finally finish for the night  and go home. When Anne goes to check on Cora, the baby is gone. The police are called and Detective Rasbach arrives. He suspects the parents right away but they are adamant that they had nothing to do with Cora missing.

As the Detective starts to investigate, secrets start to be revealed. Everyone is hiding something. From the parents to the neighbors to the in-laws, nobody is innocent. Will Cora be found before it is too late?

This was a great read. Trying to figure out what happened to Cora and if the parents did it makes this a suspenseful read. And then halfway through the book a bombshell is revealed. I definitely recommend this one.