First line: Since I have no family of my own, I am yearly asked by friends and colleagues to their homes for the Christmas holidays.
Summary: American student, Ashley Smith, is studying abroad in London. It is Christmas and she is alone. Her mother died a few years before and never knew her father. She imagines a quiet holiday in the big city until she is invited by a new friend to her family’s home in the Cotswolds. Excited with the prospects of having a truly English Christmas she quickly accepts. Upon arrival she is instantly impressed with the house, the village and especially her friend’s brother. As the days pass she falls into the family routine and deeper into her crush for Adam. But when she hears that Adam is a suspect of a recent killing she doesn’t know what to believe about him. Has she been fooled by this handsome English boy or is there someone else lurking in the woods around Starvewood Hall?
My Thoughts: This was a hard book for me to review. I was waffling between 3 and 4 stars. I did not like the first half of the book with the diary entries. I know that the main character is a nineteen-year-old girl, but it was just annoying to read at points. It did feel very juvenile which I applaud the author for achieving since that was the goal, but I did not like it too much. However, the second half throws everything on its head. I loved this bit with the twists and background for the first half of the story. And then when you discover the reason behind the title it gave me goosebumps. Part of it felt a little corny but I was in for it at this point. This would definitely be a perfect read for a cold night at Christmastime. It could easily be read in one sitting with a cup of tea and a warm blanket.
First line: “Do you remember me?” she asked, after stepping to my office.
Summary: Henry Kimball has set up a private investigation business after he was fired from the police force. His newest case brings back memories from the year he taught English at a local high school. Joan has come to Henry to enlist his help to find out if her husband is cheating on her. It seems an easy case until Henry stumbles upon two bodies in an empty house. However, it appears like Henry was meant to discover these bodies. Something is not adding up and he starts his own investigation. But it appears that he now may be the target of a killer who has hidden for years in the shadows.
My Thoughts: When I requested this I had not read The Kind Worth Killing yet. Once I saw that this was a sequel to that story I picked it up and loved every minute of it. I was very excited to jump back into Lily and Henry’s strange relationship.
The beginning I found to be a little slow but that may have had to do with the lack of Lily’s involvement. The book is divided into three sections with two different narrators who give us the points of view for the plot and the timeline was jumping around to show how events have lead up to Henry’s investigation. There is something about Peter Swanson’s writing that keeps you wanting to read just one more page or one more chapter. As the story progresses the plotting and tempo pick up which keeps the tension high until the end.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It was lots of fun and gave many shocking moments for the reader. I could not wait to see how everything ended but mostly how Lily would change the course of the plot. I picture the character Villanelle from Killing Eve when reading Lily’s point of view. She is definitely my favorite part of these books. I would highly recommend this to someone who loves a great edge of your seat thriller.
Summary: On a flight from London to Boston, Ted meets a young woman named Lily. As they talk Ted begins to discuss his marriage which he feels is not as happy as he hoped. He suspects his wife of having an affair and he lets slip that he would like to kill his wife. But rather than being turned off by the talk of murder, Lily offers to help Ted with the task. Once back in Boston the two conspirators continue to meet and discuss the details of Ted’s wife’s murder. However, there is more to Lily than Ted ever could have imagined. Including her own experience in the art of murder.
My Thoughts: This book was one twist after another. I was shocked so many times that I thought there was nothing else that could be revealed but I was wrong! I have read several of Swanson’s books but this one is his best. At the beginning it seemed to be following the plot lines of Strangers on a Train but that went out the window pretty quickly.
Even though Lily has such a dark past and did some rather dastardly things I really liked her. Her chapters were always my favorite because of how twisted her thoughts were. She was able to think herself out of situations and justify any of her actions. Her character was truly scary but easily the best part of the book.
I have wanted to read this for years but never got around to it. But when I saw and requested the next book on Netgalley, it moved up the list. And I am so glad I picked it up. I sped through it. I loved the narrators and the pacing of the novel. If I was reading it I can see it easily being a book I could have finished in a day. It was that good!
FYI:The Kind Worth Saving is coming out in March 2023.
First line: Jonathan Grant, unless he let her know ahead of time that he couldn’t make it, always visited on Wednesday evening.
Summary: Nine people have received a letter in the mail with no return postmark and inside is a list of nine names. None of the names seem familiar to the people on the list. Many of them assume that it is some technical error until one of them is found murdered. Coincidence? Maybe. Until another of the people on the list is found shot in the back while out on his morning run. Detective Winslow is also on the list and she is determined to find out what the connection is and who is hunting them.
My Thoughts: I love Peter Swanson’s books. This is my third one but I need to go back and read his older stuff soon too. The way he incorporates classic mysteries into his stories also give me more books to read but adds an extra layer of intrigue into the plot. In this one he uses the similarities with And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie.
Each of the chapters were really short and they were organized into how many people are left on the list. As it counted down the suspense continued to build as I waited for the next death or a big reveal. And just before Swanson gave the reader a big hint of who was behind the deaths, I figured it out. It was genius. As a reader, and one that has read a lot of Agatha Christie lately, I can see he enjoys her work and draws inspiration from it too.
But I think my favorite part of Swanson’s newest book was the relationships in it. The characters that lived longer into the story were given interesting storylines that made me want to read just for their interactions. It made their impending doom much more heartbreaking.
First line: She first spotted him at Bobbie’s Coffee Shop on Twenty-Second Street.
Summary: Just days before her wedding to millionaire, Bruce Lamb, the one night stand from her bachelorette weekend shows up trying to convince her to not go through with the wedding. She tries to ignore his attempts but then he appears at her wedding too. But she thinks that his stalking is over until he appears at the secluded island on her honeymoon. Does she tell Bruce or try to solve the situation on her own?
My Thoughts: When I looked at the rating for this book I was kind of surprised that it was so low. I found the book to be rather enjoyable with lots of dark and twisted moments. I found it to be more like an eighties horror movie than psychological thriller. And part of that can be found that several reveals were rather predictable. But I had a lot of fun reading it nonetheless.
Even though the island is supposed to be secluded and good for getting away from technology it also seems rather scary. You are secluded. On an island. With little communication. What if something bad happens? Well this book answers that question. And it was thrilling and scary.
First line: The front door opened, and I heard the stamp of the FBI agent’s feet on the doormat.
On a snowy morning Malcolm Kershaw gets a call from an FBI agent asking
about a list of his favorite fictional murders he wrote years ago on
his bookstores blog. What does an old blog post have to do with a string
of recent murders? According to Gwen, the FBI agent, it appears that
someone is using this list to commit their own murders. Malcolm starts
doing his own search into the suspects. Who are they and how are they
connected to him? Sometimes life can be stranger than fiction.
My Thoughts: While reading this I found myself comparing it to The Woman in the Window. I don’t think it had much to do with the actual mystery but more with the books/movies recommended by the narrator. I even put holds on several of the movies and looked for copies of the mystery novels mentioned.
I love how the author calls out how so many thrillers are trying to follow the unreliable narrator like in Gone Girl. It has become a mystery trope but not one that is truly new. However, we still continue to read them because they are just so much fun. I think Malcolm though is not an unreliable narrator. He is very upfront about things but he omits some stuff as well until the end.
was a fun fast paced journey through snowy Boston. I kept trying to
figure out the twist. I can honestly say I did not consider how it would
end. But he even leaves us wondering if the conclusion is 100% true.
This is my first Peter Swanson novel and I think I will read more in the
FYI: Be prepared to add old mystery novels to your TBR list.
*This is my pick for category #1 (A book with a number in the title) for the ReadICT challenge.*