Check It Out!

Staff recommendations and reviews from the Plainfield Public Library

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Something In the Water by Catherine Steadman

Newlyweds Erin and Mark are on an extravagant honeymoon in Bora Bora. On their way to a diving excursion, they come across papers floating in the water and something knocking against their boat. The item is a duffel bag filled with diamonds, cash, a burner phone and USB drive. Near the location where they found the bag, Marc dives under to find a crashed plane of what he tells Erin are really bad people.

Mark had just lost his job in banking and this is why they had to cut their honeymoon short. Erin’s salary as a documentary film maker isn’t enough to pay their mortgage or finance the family they hope to start. With Mark’s banking knowledge, they believe they can sell the diamonds and deposit the money in a Swiss bank account without raising any suspicionsl, which means their financial troubles will be over.

But taking money that doesn’t belong to you comes at a price. Erin believe someone is watching her. Is it the owners of the money wanting it back? And as Erin goes back to working on interviewing three inmates for her documentary, the actions of one of her subjects may have the police digging into her personal life. And the more complicated their lives become in hiding the money, the more the lies begin to grow…can they even trust each other?

This page-turner isn’t necessarily a stand out in the crowded psychological thriller genre, but I certainty enjoyed it. Even though I hated the decisions of the characters, the different plot threads kept my interest throughout. Recommended.


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Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

Eleanor Oliphant works in the accounting department at a graphic design firm in Glasgow, Scotland.  She is socially awkward, says what’s on her mind and really doesn’t have a filter. She sticks to a routine right down to what she wears and what she eats for dinner every night and doesn’t really have any social interactions, not even with the people at work, who snicker behind her back since they find her behavior to sometimes be odd.

Upon leaving work one evening, Raymond, who works in IT at Eleanor’s place of employment, tries to initiate conversation. Eleanor of course feels very ill at ease with even this minor social interaction, and while she is struggling with the conversation, they witness an elderly man collapse in the middle of the street.  Raymond rushes to help and urges Eleanor to stay by his side while he calls for assistance.

Later on, Ray convinces Eleanor to visit the elderly man in the hospital, and this chance event is the beginning of Eleanor finding friendship and facing her harrowing past that has shaped who she has become.

At turns heartbreaking and funny, Eleanor is a character you’ll be rooting for as she eventually finds peace with her life, and most readers will find this uplifting, yet sympathetic tale to their liking. If you enjoyed The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion, then this is the book for you!

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Our Kind of Cruelty by Araminta Hall

Mike and his girlfriend Verity used to play a game they called the “crave.” They would go out to a bar or club and wait for another man to hit on Verity. Before things got too far, Verity would tug on her eagle pendant, and Mike would shove the guy out of the way and save her.

Now Verity is engaged to someone else and has invited him to their wedding. Mike never believed that their relationship was really over, despite his one discretion when he was living in New York. In fact, he is convinced that this is all part of an elaborate game of the crave like they used to play. So, he is going along with the game knowing full well that Verity still loves him deeply, and eventually they’ll be together again.

The story is told from Mike’s perspective while he is awaiting trial. The reader does not know yet what has happened, but the story is unraveled as Mike reflects on past events leading up to present day.

Contemporary psychological thrillers have typically been told from a woman’s perspective but in this case, we get a man’s point of view, and he can definitely be considered an unreliable narrator. The reader never knows what the truth is and what is Mike’s delusions on his relationship with Verity. The book keeps you on edge as you wait to find out what happens, but in the end there isn’t really the big reward you would have expected for getting up to the end.

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Red Sparrow

Based on the Red Sparrow book trilogy, Jennifer Lawrence stars as Dominika, a renowned ballet dancer whose career is shattered when a fellow dancer breaks her leg. Having been replaced in her company, they will no longer pay for her ailing mother’s healthcare or apartment.

Dominika is enlisted by her uncle to work as a Russian spy to seduce men and get information. With no other source of income, Dominika has no choice but to participate. She learns in her training that she is expected to do whatever it takes to accomplish the job, even if it means getting raped or killed.

Dominika learns of Nate Nash working for the American government and hiding an important asset who he has not been able to locate. Nash could be an opportunity for Dominkia to get out alive, even if it means betraying her country.

Smart, dark and sexy, I was pleasantly surprised how much I enjoyed Red Sparrow, especially since spy-type stories don’t typically appeal to me. Lawrence is always spectacular no matter what she she does, and fans of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo movie starring Daniel Craig will find something to like here. Rated R

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Catch a Killer by Kris Rafferty

After losing Jack Benton, her lover and partner, FBI Special Agent Hannah Cambridge is now in Boston heading up a task force to put a stop to a string of serial killings plaguing the city. And in fact, Hannah has been targeted as the next victim.

Benton died in a car explosion and Hannah never had the chance to tell him she was pregnant. No one on the force knows about their child, and Hannah is in for the shock of her life to discover that Benton never really died but actually went deep undercover. He is back now to takeover the task force and keep Hannah safe.

Her career is all she has ever had, and Hannah refuses to step away from the case, even for her own safety. Hannah and Jack have to set their differences aside and work towards repairing their broken relationship if they are ever going to stop this killer in his tracks.

Verdict: Although most readers will have guessed the identity of the killer before the novel’s end, Rafferty’s (Caught By You) second series offering keeps the reader engaged with an entertaining plot and affecting romance with mildly sexy love scenes.

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The Flight Attendant by Chris Bohjalian

Flight attendant Cassie Bowden is on a flight to Dubai when she meets hedge fund manager, Alex, a passenger who she flirts with. The two make plans to meet up later at a hotel.  In the hotel room, Alex receives a visit from a woman who she assumes is his work colleague, and the three finish off a bottle of vodka. When Cassie wakes up in the morning in bed with Alex, he is covered in blood because his throat was slit during the night.

Cassie is a heavy drinker who sometimes blacks out when she drinks. She questions whether she killed Alex, so instead of calling the authorities, she wipes off any trace of her fingerprints from the room and rejoins the airline crew for the next flight.

The story alternates between Elena, the woman who was in Alex’s room, and her work with the Russians and Cassie, who is trying to save herself from conviction when the hotel’s security cameras spot her leaving his room.

Cassie is a very unlikable character who goes from one bad decision to another. Perhaps Bohjalian was trying to cash in on the “unreliable narrator” trend that is hot in fiction right now. The story kept you interested, but this was not one of the author’s best.

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All the Beautiful Lies by Peter Swanson

With college graduation around the corner, Harry Ackerson is called home to Kennewick, Maine after learning of his father’s unexpected death.  Bill’s body was found on a walking path, a path he took every day on his way home from work. At first Alice, Harry’s stepmom, believes that Bill had fell and hit his head, but the police are treating it as a suspicious death.

Harry was already in high school by the time his father married Alice, so he doesn’t really know her, and she is the only family he has left now. He feels a responsibility to take care of Alice and to help out at his father’s, who specialized in rare books, store. Shortly before the funeral and then later at the funeral he sees a suspicious woman that no one seems to know. He wonders what this woman’s connection to his father was and what she wants now.

The story alternates between present day and Alice’s disturbing past, as we learn she isn’t the perfect wife she is initially painted to be. As the investigation continues, Harry also learns how little he actually knew about his father and what lies he had kept.

A strong contender for thriller lovers – although nothing shocking, there are plenty of twists to keep the pages turning. Recommend!