Check It Out!

Staff recommendations and reviews from the Plainfield Public Library


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I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh

In Bristol, England, five-year old Jacob is struck by a car and killed. The driver takes off without stopping to help. With very few witnesses or leads, DI Ray and his assistant Kate have very little to go on and the case eventually goes cold.

Jenna Gray has moved away to an isolated coastal Welsh village in hopes of a clean start. She has few material possessions and arrives by bus. She rents an old cottage from a farmer and tries to keep to herself but is befriended by the owner of the caravan park and the local vet, Patrick, who treats an abandoned dog she discovers on the side of the road. Jenna, a former sculptor, finds work by selling photographs of sand messages. Even though she harbors deep secrets, it seems as though her new life is finally coming together, that is, until the cops show up at her door.

Meanwhile, something is nagging at Kate and she can’t let the case go. Kate and Ray reopen the case, hoping for new leads or a stone left unturned to find justice for little Jacob.

My synopsis is intentionally vague because I don’t want to ruin any spoilers. The story goes back and forth in time and slowly unravels why Jenna is on the run. There is even a shocking revelation near that end that keep the pages moving. Mackintosh’s debut runs a close second to Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris and will appeal to readers of dark psychological thrillers who can stomach domestic violence stories.


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The Child by Fiona Barton

Although not billed as a series, reporter Kate Waters from Barton’s debut, The Widowreturns as she begins to investigate when an infant’s bones are found on a construction site in London. A mother of two other children, Angela Irving’s baby, Alice, disappeared from the hospital in the 70’s and was never found. She is hoping that DNA samples will prove a match so that she knows what happened to her baby all those years ago. The police believe the body was buried sometime in the 80’s, which brings about more questions than answers.

Emma learns about the baby, whose remains were found in the garden of her old home, from Kate’s article in the paper. Although she was kicked out at sixteen, Emma harbors a dark secret from that neighborhood during the days she lived there with her selfish mother Jude and Jude’s boyfriend, Will.

Kate’s investigation has her confronting the major players in the neighborhood during that time period as she unravels what exactly happened to baby Alice.

A very well done dark suspense novel that is equal to, if not better, than Barton’s debut. There is a twist that this reader did not see coming that proves what a clever story Barton has weaved. If you are into the psychological suspense novels like me, this one is a sure bet.


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Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris

For appearance sake, Grace and Jack Angel seem to be the perfect couple. They live in the perfect house and Grace is the perfect host at their dinner party with neighbors and friends.

Grace first met her husband Jack at a local park when her sister Millie, who has downs syndrome, was dancing away. He offered Millie a dance and to take them both for tea. Handsome and successful, Jack is an attorney representing victims of domestic violence.  Not only does he seem to have fallen for Grace, he adores Millie, which means more to Grace than anything in the whole word.  You see, Grace will become Millie’s full time guardian once she turns eighteen and is not eligible to stay at her school any longer. Grace’s plan is to have Millie in her home, but now that she is with Jack, the two will welcome Millie and live as a happy family.

After six months of courtship, they marry and honeymoon in Thailand.  The night of their wedding, Jack leaves while she is napping and doesn’t return for several days. When he returns to pick her up, he has news for Grace. He is anything but the doting, loving husband he has pretended to be. He has carefully orchestrated a plan to make Grace a prisoner and he even has more sinister plans for Millie once she turns eighteen.

Readers will be hoping that Grace can prevail and find her way out of this unthinkable ordeal she has found herself in. This twisty, dark novel isn’t for the faint of heart, but is another recommended addition to the popular psychological suspense books as of late. If you liked Fiona Barton’s The Widow and Ruth Ware’s The Woman in Cabin 10then Behind Closed Doors is guaranteed to be right up your alley.


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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.