DATE NIGHT – Samantha Hayes 

“Tongues will be wagging, gossip rife in the local pub, the village store, the primary school playground. An ending after the weeks of suspense.Did she do it? What happened? Who’d have thought?…”

Well hello there, new favorite author. When you write a twist like that, you sure are going straight to my must-read author list! 

If you love murder mysteries where babysitters are involved, Date Night (out now!) is definitely for you. Did Libby have something to do with 17-year-old Sasha Long’s disappearance? Why are we seeing her being transported in a police vehicle with blood under her fingernails?

The first few chapters of DATE NIGHT might give you the impression that this is just another one of those domestic thrillers/mysteries where the “killer is closer than you might think”, but the ending convinced me I was looking at the story the wrong way, and the fact that the author thought of wrapping up this mystery with that conclusion is absolutely brilliant. 

I noticed how this book moved from calm to startlingly anxiety-inducing (at the middle), and I feel like Hayes used that transition as a shock factor, which made this thriller and its pacing stand out from most of its predecessors. 


LOCK ME IN: A chilling look into Dissociative Identity Disorder in Kate Simants’ Debut

“You want to know fear? Imagine someone there, every day when you wake. Imagine knowing, without even opening your eyes, that someone is watching you.”
The second I saw that this book tackles DID (Dissociative Identity Disorder), I knew I had to read it. I literally dropped the book I was reading and instantly dove in. In her debut, Simants writes a thriller that’s driven by mental health, and delves into a real, nightmarish thing that many people go through in their everyday lives. 

However, we can see how this psychological condition became a common theme in the genre, and when included in a fictional story, it isn’t always portrayed in a believable way. But I was completely engrossed by the originality and insightfulness provided by this story and its characters. 

One of the mysteries here is to find the nature of the trauma that is causing Ellie’s episodes – or what she calls, “fugues”. And there’s this particular disappearance of one of the characters that she thinks she’s responsible for. And nothing is as it primarily seems.

We have a smooth, moderate pace as we follow two POVs (Ellie + the detective) and Ellie’s sessions with her psychotherapist – my favorite parts. 

Did I mention this is a debut? Kate Simants is indeed a new voice to watch. So light up a candle, grab a snack, get in your comfiest clothes and prepare to savor every word out of this fantastic read!

THE BETTER LIAR: Tanen Jones Delves Into a Story About Sisterhood and Maternal Drive in Her Debut Thriller

“If I tell you how it happened, maybe you’ll remember me as well.”

The Better Liar (January 2020) is a quick, clever, mind-bending thriller with a literary touch that explores a complex side of sisterhood, and the meticulously explained topic of maternal drive – how is “maternal instinct” cultivated? It was exhilarating learning about these elements as the Vreeland sisters – two complex, fully-rounded characters – narrate the story and take us to their awful, harrowing past.

This book is about a young woman who must reunite with her sister in order to claim their joint inheritance, only when she arrives at her apartment, she finds her sister…dead. The story starts off with this main perturbation, continues with slow-building suspense, which relies on providing the reader with intrigue and curiosity regarding two girls’ ridiculously insane plan, all the way to the cuckoo ending. 

That’s where the author ratchets up the suspense by combining emotionally-charged aspects of the sisters’ pasts, and twisty bombshells when you least expect them. I found that very exciting – the unpredictability. At the middle, I thought I had everything figured out but boy was I wrong. You just have to sit back and let the story take you on this ride that’s intriguing enough to keep you turning the pages before the book comes through with the crazy revelation and follow-up twists. 

This is a powerful debut thriller. It moves past what we expect from a typical psychological thriller abd creates a chilling tale where characters and their relationships matter. 

*** Thank you to the publisher for providing me with a copy of The Better Liar through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review ***

THE MURDER LIST – Hank Phillippi Ryan

Synopsis: Law student Rachel North will tell you, without hesitation, what she knows to be true. She’s smart, she’s a hard worker, she does the right thing, she’s successfully married to a faithful and devoted husband, a lion of Boston’s defense bar, and her internship with the Boston DA’s office is her ticket to a successful future.Problem is–she’s wrong. And in this cat and mouse game–the battle for justice becomes a battle for survival.

My thoughts: The Murder List is the type of read John Grisham would be proud of. The book presents a slew of delicious twists through law student Rachel North’s journey as she thrusts herself into this unsettling world of crime and politics.

At the beginning, our heroine’s first step sounds harmless – she’ll only be working for Assistant District defense attorney Martha Gardiner: her husband’s rival. But does Rachel know what she’s getting herself into? The ending was incredible. I like switching from one sub-genre to another, and diving into this gorgeously written political thriller was a fun experience! This is my first Phillippi Ryan Read and definitely not my last. 

GOOD GIRLS LIE: J. T. Ellison’s New Thriller Takes Places in An All-girls Boarding School Full of Secrets

“How do you kill a narcissist?”
In Good Girls Lie, a 16-year-old’s body is found dangling from the gates of the elite Goode school – an all-girls boarding school – on a chilly morning. Right at the very beginning. This scene had me leaning forward in my seat, leaving me in an unexpected jaw-dropping state, as I wasn’t expecting the author to capture anything that insidious on the outskirts of her domestic suspense realm. J. T. Ellison is already a celebrated author and I think her new novel will strengthen that.
The first half of the book brims with menace, but only lightly so as to prep the right amount of tension that will eventually burst at any instant towards the end. But here’s what boosts the thrill of the events – the murder victim is our main protagonist. You can imagine, putting this book down sounded like a dreadfully silly idea. I had to know what happens.

The gothic feel to the school, the hauntings surrounding its premises, the strange occurences in its hallways and rooms, a secret passageway, a deadly staircase, a past murder…All of this provided a great deal of thrill and excitement for me. The author introduces to us the special Goode girls. They’re innocent. They’re culpable. They’re victim to their own upbringing. A fire is engraved within them and it gives birth to a crooked path towards survival. This path is devious. Dangerous. The ending was…whew, a swerving road!! So many twists.

Someone is plotting, conspiring in the shadows. But surely, these girls are good. They’re the Goode girls. Goode girls don’t lie. Do they? 

“Welcome to Goode. You’re going to love it here.” 

Why T. Marie Vandelly’s THEME MUSIC Is The Thriller of The Year

“I like this one,” I said. “It feels like home already.”
Theme Music is what every thriller/horror novelist wishes they could write. It’s obscure, unapologetic and knife-wielding. The author’s writing is extremely sharp it terrified me. And that rarely occurs. 

Without further ado, welcome to the Wheeler House.

The layout of this place is so wonderfully detailed throughout the story and, just like any of the characters that dwell inside it, has an extraordinarily haunting sense of self. From Dixie’s recollection, this is the house where her father grabbed an axe and massacred her family at the breakfast table as Badfinger’s Baby Blue played in the background. 

Little does she know that coming back to her childhood home, fifteen years later, will dredge up sinister memories and, most importantly, the awful truth of what really happened on the day of her family’s massacre. 

This book is truly boundary-breaking by poking fun at the thriller genre. It just knew how to be a thriller and a horror novel. In her debut, Vandelly proves herself as a master of both. I loved how the author focused on Dixie as the main investigator of our murder mystery; she features but minimizes detective/police involvement in order to give her an opportunity to rely on her own set of skills to learn the truth. I think that that’s what made Dixie a true heroine. 

The entire ending was chilling, and the suspense scenes were abundant. It felt like something out of a Wes Craven movie. The horror element explains the aftermath of our heroine’s past trauma and how it psychologically affects her in the present. It also felt almost necessary. I doubt that the lack of this genre in this book would’ve reached the same purpose or engraved the same emotions into the reader.

What was also interesting was the horror of the ways Dixie’s guilt -as to her father singling her out as the sole survivor of her family’s murder – manifested itself. I’ve seen my share of horror movies, but this book went beyond; what’s more terrifying than our worst nightmares infiltrating themselves into our real lives? 

A STRANGER ON THE BEACH – Michele Campbell

A one-night stand leads to murder in this addictive thriller that will keep you guessing!!

This book perfectly falls under the “nothing is as it seems” category. There are 3 things I loved about A Stranger On The Beach:
1) The accounts given by the Woman and the Stranger – concerning what happened on that bloody night, are ridiculously different! Who is telling the truth? Who is the talented liar?

2) The author is low-key dropping clever clues along the way that make the ending make complete sense. But what I really really loved was…

3) The use of the setting, the weather and the well-crafted characters’ twisted minds in order to create perfect action-packed suspense.

A STRANGER ON THE BEACH (Out today) is filled with manipulation, betrayal and plain page-turning goodness!

***Thank you to St. Martin’s Press for providing me with a copy of this book through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review***