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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Only Daughter by Anna Snoekstra

A woman has been arrested for shoplifting at a grocery store. She tries to talk her way out of it but the police are called. There is no way she telling them her identity because there is no way she is going home. While she is trying to get out of this, she remembers the story of Rebecca Winter, the sixteen year old girl who went missing eleven years ago. This girl decides to try a see if she can convince them that she is Rebecca because they look a like. The next thing she knows, she is on her way to Rebecca’s house and family.

Rebecca’s family welcomes her and “Rebecca” knows that she can’t stay but she hasn’t had a family like this before and she loves it. Until she starts to notices that they seem a little off. She starts to investigate what really happened. But what she finds out shocks her. Will she be able to escape this situation she created?

This was a pretty good psychological thriller. I was surprised at the ending when it is revealed what really happened all those years ago. What a great start for this debut novel!

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The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapeña

28815474New York suburbanites Ann and Marco leave their six-month old baby alone in her crib to attend a dinner party next door. The sitter cancelled at the last minute, and Marco convinces Ann to go, and they will check in on baby Cora every half hour.

At the end of the night, after much wine and Cynthia openly flirting with Marco, Ann comes home to find that Cora is missing.

The detective assigned to their case is suspicious of Marco, and for good reason, as the reader soon realizes he has something to hide. And much to Marco’s chagrin, they are forced to go to Ann’s wealthy parents to pay up the ransom demand. Carefully laid plans begin to unravel as time passes with no one able to locate Cora, that is, if she is even alive.

This excellent psychological thriller will appeal to readers looking for a dark novel that reads fast and will keep you guessing.

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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 Marriage Lie by Kimberly Belle

Iris believes that when she says goodbye to her husband Will as she leaves for work that it won’t be the last time.  He is leaving on a business trip to Orlando but will be back in a couple of days. While at work, a report of a flight crashing and killing everyone aboard is announced. Iris panics since the flight came out of the airport Will was at. But they soon find out it was a flight to Seattle. Iris is relieved until her mom calls and says that Will’s name was listed as one of the passengers.

Iris is devastated and confused.  And not convinced that he was really on that flight. But soon Iris starts to find out things about Will that she never knew. Like about a friend from the gym who seems to know an awful lot about Will, but Iris knows nothing about this guy. Then Iris finds out that Will lied about his past and wasn’t really from Tennessee but from Seattle. Iris decides to fly to Seattle to find out the truth. But she finds nothing but more lies and is even more confused. And she starts getting threaten texts. Iris doesn’t know what to believe anymore. But she needs to find the truth or it may cost her everything.

I really liked this book. It kept me guessing about what Iris would uncover next. This was my first book by Kimberly Belle and I will definitely check out her other two, The Last Breath and The Ones We Trust.

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Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough

A drunken night at a bar leads to single mom Louise kissing a man named David who she later learns is the newest partner at the psychiatrist office where she works (and also her boss). To make matters worse, he is married to a beautiful woman named Adele. When she confronts David, she suggests they act professionally and to forget it ever happened.

Not long after, Louise runs into Adele on the street, who offers to take her for coffee. While she knows she shouldn’t, Louise agrees and a friendship blossoms. Besides spending time together, Adele is helping her lose weight and with her night terrors. Adele also suffers from sleeping problems and shares a notebook of a friend who has steps to help control the terrors. The notebook belongs to Adele’s friend Rob, who Adele meet while she was at a facility when she was younger.

Meanwhile, David shows up at Louise’s door and they somehow resume their love affair. She knows it’s wrong but can’t seem to let either of them go. The closer she gets to Adele, she learns that David might be a controlling husband, and not the David she knows as her lover. However, the reader understands that Adele is a puppet master controlling the strings.

The ending is a shock that you definitely won’t see coming. Although Behind Her Eyes held my interest throughout, there are some parts that will require readers to suspend belief, but if you can hang in there, the ending will leave you reeling.