Tag Archives: Thriller

Book Buzz: Siracusa

Book Buzz: Siracusa

 

Book Buzz: Siracusa When People Magazine, Amazon and Publisher’s Weekly all named Delia Ephron’s Siracusa one of their top books of the year, that was enough to intrigue me about this novel, although I didn’t really need prompting to read the latest from an author whose work I always enjoy.

Two years ago I recommended Ephron’s Sister Mother Husband Dog . This time, Ephron switches gears and takes us to the town of Siracusa, located on the sun-drenched coast of Sicily. Vacationing together there are two married couples whose complicated relationships are as twisted and treacherous as the rocky paths on the island.

Siracusa

Meet New Yorkers Michael, a well-known writer, and his wife Lizzie, a freelance journalist. Lizzie had a long-ago affair with Finn, a restauranteur, whose control freak wife Taylor and strange 10 year-old daughter Snow (suffering from “extreme shyness syndrome”) accompany him. Although Finn and his family live in Portland, Maine, he and Lizzie have kept in touch platonically over the years. Why not travel to Siracusa, Lizzie suggests, as an homage to her deceased father who had spoken glowingly of the crumbling charm of the ancient town.

Note: vacationing with an ex-lover and your current spouse is probably never a good idea.

At the beginning, all seems benign enough. Four sophisticated, cultured Americans and one child are on vacation together. The plot is as languid as the Ionian Sea on a quiet morning. Everyone is guardedly happy to be on vacation together. The first stop is Rome for a few days. Tempers are under control until they arrive at Siracusa and Taylor is appalled at the primitive accommodations. That seems to be the point at which dark clouds begin to amass. Seemingly innocent flirtations become something more sinister … jealousy and betrayal lead to emotional warfare … infatuations and danger take the plot in a different direction.

Told in retrospect in alternating voices of the four adults, the narrations reveal earlier missteps of each character, and their desire to make sense out of lives that haven’t gone quite the way they expected. Lizzie, Michael, Taylor and Finn reveal hidden secrets and resentments by recounting the same incidents but with completely different interpretations. Gradually, we come to learn that things are not as they seem. Their secrets and lies bubble to the surface and position them for emotional upheaval.

Aha, you will think as the clues start to accumulate and the plot thickens. Maybe you will figure out the delicously macabre ending, but I was certainly surprised.

Ephron is a master storyteller. Her skewering take on marriage and mores, with a healthy dose of black humor thrown in to sweeten the pot, makes Siracusa a book you will not be able to put down. Now out in paperback, Siracusa is just the right blend of psychological thriller and expose of human nature that makes it a hugely satisfying read. No wonder it has found its way onto so many Top Book of the Year sites.

One of my lucky readers will receive a copy of Siracusa. Please leave a comment below, and a winner will be randomly selected. USA addresses only, please.

 

I received a copy of Siracusa from Blue Rider Press for an honest review,
which is the only kind of review I write.

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Book Buzz: My Husband’s Wife

Book Buzz: My Husband's Wife

Book Buzz: My Husband's WifeIn the spirit of dark psychological thrillers like Gone Girl and The Couple Next Door comes the debut novel, My Husband’s Wife, the story of two women and one man caught up in a web of dependence and betrayal.

My Husband’s Wife

Author Jane Corry has written My Husband’s Wife from two perspectives.  One of the narrators is Lily, a young insecure lawyer, newly married to Ed. The other narrator is Carla, a lonely and manipulative nine year-old when the story opens. Lily and Ed live in the same apartment building in London as Carla and her single mother, an Italian immigrant trying to eke out a living.

Lily has doubts about her husband’s fidelity from the get go, convinced he is still seeing an ex-girlfriend. Lily herself is conflicted about her true feelings for Ed, and is emotionally drawn to a client that she is defending in a murder case.

Carla is an outcast at school and yearns for stability in her life, which her distracted other can’t provide. She ends up spending time with Lily and Ed while her mother is at work. Ed, an artist, is captivated by Carla’s Mediterranean beauty and likes to draw sketches of her while she visits. He completes a series of drawings that he calls “The Italian Girl.”

Sound creepy? It is.

A jump of 16 years in the timeline brings us to Carla as a young woman, now studying to be a lawyer herself.  Lily at midlife is at the peak of her career as a criminal attorney. She has achieved success, but ghosts from her past continue to haunt her.

Gradually, we learn about the murky backstories of both major and minor characters. The story is replete with entanglements and betrayals, lies and surprises. All that good stuff that makes a book a page turner.

Readers have responded enthusiastically to these complex, brooding thrillers — recently pegged “grip lit” — that feature flawed and unreliable female narrators. They make for a fun read, and they translate well to the big screen. I wouldn’t be surprised if we see trailers for My Husband’s Wife in the future.

By the way, the intriguing title will make total sense by the end of the book.

 

One of my lucky readers will receive a copy of My Husband’s Wife. Please leave a comment below and a winner will be randomly selected. USA addresses only, please.

 

I received a copy of My Husband’s Wife from Viking for an honest review,
which is the only kind of review I write.

If you like my blog post, please share it!
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Book Buzz: The Couple Next Door

You’ve heard of chick lit, but did you know that there is a new literary genre called “grip lit?”

Grip lit refers to the smoldering, tension-driven, dark crime novels written by women and featuring morally questionable female narrators.

Gone Girl comes to mind, of course. Its huge success spawned others in short order  — The Girl on the Train, for example.

Grip lit is a trend that is on the fast track, and understandably so. Who doesn’t love a dark, spine tingling domestic drama that keeps you on edge until the last page?

The Couple Next Door fits this bill, beautifully.

Book Buzz: The Couple Next Door

So, first, a warning. Do not read this book if:

You are on the beach or by the pool and low on sunscreen.

It is late at night and you have to get up early the next day.

You can’t handle suspense.

Written by the talented debut author Shari Lapena, the premise is one that will resonate with anyone, parent or not.

Anne and Marco are a young married couple whose life seems just about perfect: a loving relationship, a swanky townhouse, fancy cars, and a beautiful new baby girl.

One evening they are getting ready to go to a party next door. At the last minute, their sitter cancels. What should they do? The hostess (childless and clueless about parenting) has discouraged them from bringing the baby. Marco persuades Anne to go and she reluctantly agrees, provided they take along the baby monitor and return to check on the baby every 30 minutes.

When they return home at the end of the evening, they discover to their shock that the baby has been abducted. Snatched her from her crib in the middle of the night just minutes after the last time she was checked. The distraught parents can’t imagine who could have done such an evil thing. They are desperate to get her back.

As the police get involved, fingers are pointed and alibis are suspected. Whodunit?

And … I am not going to tell you anymore, because you should enjoy every twist and turn in this page-turner. In true grip lit fashion, author Lapena’s razor sharp writing will lead you to suspect one character, then another, then back to the first, and you’ll probably be wrong about all of them.

It is also a contemporary story that involves several provocative issues, such as the moral responsibility of parents, the pressure on new mothers to be perfect, the role of technology in solving a mystery.

If you are like me and love diving into a heart-pounding frenzy of a psychological thriller, you will love The Couple Next Door.

 

One of my lucky readers will receive a copy of The Couple Next Door. Please leave a comment below and a winner will be randomly selected. USA addresses only, please.

 

I received a copy of The Couple Next Door from Viking for an honest review, which is the only kind of review I write.

If you like my blog post, please share it!
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Book Buzz: Under the Harrow

If there is a season for good reads, it is certainly summer. Have I got a juicy one for you.

Book Buzz: Under the Harrow

Under the Harrow by Flynn Berry starts off, as all good psychological thrillers do, with a sense of normalcy. Nora, the narrator, is boarding a train in London to go visit her sister Rachel in the countryside as she often does. Her mind wanders as she muses about the mundane: her job, old conversations, the sisters’ vacation in Cornwall, the scenery out the window.

She reaches her destination and finds that Rachel and her dog are not there waiting. Nora figures Rachel has been stuck at work and sets off for the house by herself.

What awaits her is a ghastly scene. Rachel is the victim of a brutal murder.

Under the Harrow

By definition, under the harrow means distressed and in peril. In the aftermath of her trauma, Nora struggles to gather her wits so she can be helpful to the police. She is skeptical that they are on the right track, however. Rachel had been the victim of an assault years ago, a case that has gone unsolved. Was this perpetrator the same? Was it the married neighbor, a handyman, who had done work in Rachel’s house and was the last one to see her alive? Was it any one of the townspeople whom Nora regards with suspicion? By obsessively tracking down the killer she finds a way to work through her grief.

This is Berry’s debut novel, and she is a gifted writer and storyteller. Her prose is spare and powerful, and as the story unfolds we learn much about the tender, fiercely loyal, complex relationship between the sisters.

Under the Harrow is an emotional, suspenseful story that is as much a study of the bond between sisters as it is an absorbing murder mystery.

Who doesn’t love a page turner? Slap on your suntan lotion and enjoy this engrossing summer read.

 

One of my lucky readers will receive a copy of Under the Harrow. Please leave a comment and a winner will be selected randomly. USA addresses only, please.

 

I received a copy of Under the Harrow from Penguin for an honest review,
which is the only kind of review I write.

If you like my blog post, please share it!
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