BLACKOUT – Ragnar Jonasson

Fellow crime readers, brace yourselves for one of the most brilliantly written crime novels of all time.

I’ve been meaning to read Nordic Noir for quite a while and I think Ragnar had made a fantastic job with this read.

It’s universally known that Iceland is one of the safest places on earth, so how shocking would it be to have a work of crime fiction where the most unspeakable things occured in its whereabouts?

Synopsis:

BLACKOUT stars with an atmospheric scene featuring an American tourist driving around the roads in the Northern Iceland area. The passing scenery with the captivating fjords and dark green hills was anything but not enjoyable, when he pulled at the side of one street to witness a brutally murdered man lying next to a building site, on the safe grounds of Skagafjordur.

This is an Ari Thor thriller, but from an entirely different angle, an intriguingly fascinating character of a woman named Isrun investigates the same crime, independently.

The cast of BLACKOUT is an easily relatable one – most of it at least. The reason behind this is that the author divulges to the reader the background of each character – one that is anything but perfect.

Despite the somewhat brutality and violence of the crime in question, the book does have a kind of soft edge to it; a moody and comforting side that describes the Nordic Noir genre perfectly.

What also drew me to this book was that the reader might experience a sudden shift of emotion towards our characters and mostly the victim of the crime at hand, the moment we become aware of where they come from.

It was fascinating to see how all these people seem to be intimately connected to the story’s main perturbational element.
It’s important to note that the discoveries throughout and mostly at the end of the book, spark something inside the reader that leaves with a feeling of a book hangover, with a highly sought after element, especially in the crime genre.

What are your thoughts about this book? Do you feel like it’s the kind of read you’d want to dive into?
Let’s discuss!

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OUR KIND OF CRUELTY – Araminta Hall

Our Kind of Cruelty

What happens when a male unreliable narrator is the sole protagonist of a dark psychological thriller?

The answer is right within this riveting novel’s pages.

Sypnosis:

The book revolves mainly around the concept of obsessive love and a surplus devotion between our characters Mike and Verity. This couple plays a twisted game called The Crave.
This is how this game works…

Verity is approached by a suitor at a bar, they begin to flirt and when things look like they’re going the distance, she tugs her silver eagle necklace and Mike comes to her rescue. V and Mike take each other as their reward afterwards.

Although after Mike’s infidelity, Verity marries another man.
This will utterly shatter him, but Mike can’t help but be convinced that V’s endeavors are part of The Crave, and that the rules of this game have certainly changed because this time, someone has to die.

Throughout the last pages, things take a dark turn and the novel becomes more addictive than ever, with that just-one-more-page effect.

My full thoughts:

The story’s events are told from Mike’s perspective, and we become aware of the damaged childhood he comes from and how his upbringing brutally affects the intriguinly dark manner in which he thinks.

As we leaf through the pages, we begin to acknowledge that the author really pushes boundaries and creates a newer layer of dark and disturbing by challenging the thriller genre in the most original way.

Our Kind of Cruelty is more of an exploration of the crooked human psychology than it is an unraveling of a mystery, and also more about the anticipation of what’s going to happen next in our protagonist Mike’s journey.

This psychological thriller is perfect for fans of Patricia Highsmith and gripping thrillers such as Grist Mill Road by Christopher J. Yates.

The book does have a slew of explicit scenes (abuse, affairs, etc), so do proceed with caution.

Have you read Our Kind Of Cruelty?
Do you think it’s up your alley?

Let’s discuss in the comments, fellow readers!

THE GIRLFRIEND – Michelle Frances

THE GIRLFRIEND is a debut psychological thriller that will take you on an addictive and unforgettable ride through one of the most twisted relationships you’ve ever read.

Michelle gives us a close look into the perfect bond that is mother-son relationship between Laura and Daniel.
Then comes Cherry – a dedicated observer and clever plotter.

This domestic drama focuses mainly on the battle between two strong women who are good, but would also manipulate their way into getting what they want…
Laura lives in a big house, is married to a rich husband and is devoted to her loving son. She has the perfect life.

But what secrets lie behind those closed doors?

Cherry comes from a poor family, and – despite her intelligent mind – her background has kept her from achieving the life she wanted. But she worked hard and got herself an average-paying real estate job, where she meets Daniel, Laura’s son – and Cherry’s ticket to the life of her dreams.

Not long afterwards, sinister occurences start to take place.

A horrific accidentAn unforgivable lie

What lengths will Cherry go through to build the new life she deserves?
What will a strong mother like Laura do to protect her son?

Michelle pulls us into this domestic thriller with such a riveting style of narration that makes it such an addictive page-turner where the reader becomes obsessed with these unstoppable women and their next move.
The novel reeks of an unsettling tense atmosphere that progresses steadily into the most heart-sinking ending.

BUY ON AMAZON

 

THE SITTAFORD MYSTERY – Agatha Christie

On a snowy Friday afternoon in Dartmoor, Newly installed tenants Mrs Willett and her daughter Violet, along with four other people they invited to tea, host an evening of “table-turning” – a séance, during which, a spirit announces that Trevelyan, the residence owner, is dead. Major Burnaby, Trevelyan’s friend decides to visit the Sittaford village to check on him, where he appears to find the prediction has come true. Emily Trefusis, engaged to Trevelyan’s nephew, uncovers the mystery along with the police.

One of the most entertaining things about an Agatha’s novel is the fact that it tends to contain purely different characters – each one with their own set of personality.

Emily Trefusis, for instance, certainly caught my attention in this book. Her character is observable and easily likeable. She expresses true devotion towards her fiancé Jim as Inspector Narracott makes the decision to arrest him for the murder of Mr. Joseph Arthur Trevelyan. Emily believes in Jim’s innocence and finds his character beautiful even though – in the eyes of others – they completely differ from one another: While she’s highly confident and is mentally stable, Jim is an overly-anxious man who gets emotionally disturbed so very easily.

What exactly lies inside the separate cottages of the Sittaford village? What do their inhabitants hide? Is the installment of the Willetts in Sittaford connected to the crime?
Who killed Mr. Trevelyan?

Agatha delves deep in the psychology of the characters and makes that all intentions and occurrences are justified, in a chilling way that satisfies the reader.

THE WOMAN IN CABIN 10 – Ruth Ware

“You’re fine, I told myself. You’re completely safe. We’re on a boat in the middle of the ocean – no one can get in or away. It’s about the safest place you could possibly be.’

Travel journalist Laura Blacklock is offered a trip on the luxurious cruise liner The Aurora Borealis, which will hopefully allow her to recover the horrifying experience of a break-in that traumatized her to the core.
One night, Laura is woken by a scream and she looks over her window to witness a body being thrown overboard from the cabin next door. But the records show that no one ever checked into that cabin, and no passengers are missing from the boat.
THE WOMAN IN CABIN 10 begins with an atmospheric dream scene where a woman is sinking below the surface of the ocean’s dark waves.

Laura’s character can be considered relatable in her unusual conduct, clumsiness and occasionally reckless decisions. It’s easy to sympathize with her as she goes through the most traumatic experiences in her life – a break-in that has traumatized her to the core and the panic attacks, followed by the witnessing of a body being thrown from the cabin’s window next to hers on the luxurious cruise liner in the middle of the night.

As Ruth Ware, with impeccable style of writing, takes us into the Scandinavian waters, the reader becomes engaged and eager to discover what the protagonist’s next step is going to be.

Will she bring herself to divulge what she had seen? Are Laura’s confessions not true, given what happened to her in the past? Is Laura trapped on this cruise ship with a murderer?

The build-up is extraordinarily structured and neatly plotted and I absolutely think this book is worth the read!

Books Similar To MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS by Agatha Christie

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Queen of crime Agatha Christie surely had amazed all us crime fiction readers, especially when it came to her brilliant masterpiece, Murder On The Orient Express.

                         *A bit about this book*

Just after midnight, the famous Orient Express is stopped in its tracks by a snowdrift. By morning, the millionaire Simon Ratchett is found dead in his compartment, stabbed multiple times, his door locked from the inside. This is when Detective Hercule Poirotis determined to find the murderer before he strikes again.

I loved the concept behind this mystery, and it usually revolves around a group of people who embark on a journey of travel that turns into something shockingly sinister. And through some of my latest reads, I’ve encountered a slew of mysteries that tackle this very same concept…

  *The Woman In Cabin 10 by RUTH WARE*

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Plot: Travel journalist Laura Blacklock is offered a trip on the luxurious cruise liner The Aurora Borealis, which will hopefully allow her to recover the horrifying experience of a break-in that traumatized her to the core.
One night, Laura is woken by a scream and she looks over her window to witness a body being thrown overboard from the cabin next door. But…the records show that no one ever checked into that cabin, and no passengers are missing from the boat.
Did Laura make a mistake, or is she trapped on a boat with a murderer?

*All By Myself, Alone by MARY HIGGINS CLARK*

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Plot: Celia Kilbride, in hopes of escaping public attention concerning the arrest of her husband-to-be, proceeds to lecture on a luxurious ocean liner. On the brand new cruise ship Queen Charlotte, Celia meets Lady Emily Haywood -the owner of a priceless emerald necklace.
Three days later, Lady Emily is found dead – and her necklace is missing.

Each passenger has a dark secret they’re afraid might come out. So when an accident and then a murder occur, it’s hard to pinpoint which one is the guilty party.
Alvirah is one of the passengers. She’s very good detective and a very entertaining one also. She and Willy make it their mission to find out who the killer is before they reach Southampton, their final destination- hopefully alive.

 *And Then There Were None by AGATHA CHRISTIE*

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Plot: One weekend, ten strangers are summoned as guests to a private island by their host Mr. Owen, who’s unknown to all of them.
Before the weekend comes to end, the guests’ lives are taken one by one; a mysterious killing spree that’s inspired by what’s been called, ‘the ten indian boys tale.’

How do you feel about these books? Have you read them?
Are they up your alley?

Let’s discuss in the comments, fellow readers!

45 Pounds of Flesh – SANS EMMERT

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Damon was raised by a good family. Even the fights his mom and dad get into always pleasantly end with laughter. Until Damon’s father took away his own life…

Laura decides her son needs grief counseling and so takes him to a psychologist. But this isn’t Laura’s main concern: she hadn’t told Damon the whole truth about his father – that her son is the result of a rape of which she’d been a victim a long time ago.
In a matter of time, Damon meets Kammy- his very first girlfriend, an intern at the hospital where he also works.
Damon cares a lot about Kammy, more than she does him. He loves her deeply. Kammy, however, has other entirely different relationship and future plans.

Daily, Damon would find himself immersed in both his perseverance to get Kammy back and his work on writing the right scripts for movies he dreams of making in the future.
After several struggles on his part, Damon and Kammy agree to marry and soon are blessed with their firstborn JonDamon.

In the second half of the book, we’re taken through Damon’s emotional torture because of Kammy’s endeavors, as he tries to balance between his work in construction from where he earns his income, coming up with a decent movie script and taking care of his baby.

Damon would take his writing very seriously, he would buy an unloaded gun and a noose he’d put around his neck to figure out the true feelings of the characters in his script.

Soon enough – as Damon described it, ‘life imitated art.’
In Damon’s mind, there’s a blurred boundary between fiction and reality. His movie scripts would collide with his real life’s predicaments, and from there things escalate to a much darker level.

How will Damon face the issues at hand? Will he mimic his father’s behavior? Are there other dark secrets that will drive him to do something more sinister?

The writing is very compelling as the author introduces us to the dark psychological trauma highlighted by the complexity of nature vs. nurture.

This book is certainly not for the faint-hearted.

Readers of Patricia Highsmith (one of my personal favorites) might truly appreciate the way Sans Emmert dives into this genre.

***A big thank you to Sans Emmert and BooksGoSocial for providing me with a copy of 45 POUNDS OF FLESH in exchange for an honest***