Nicely twisted: Review of The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides

The Silent Patient (by Alex Michaelides) had been on my TBR pile for a while, and when I saw that it was in contention for Goodreads’ Choice Awards 2019 – Mystery and Thriller + Debut – I brought it up to the top and delved right in.

Does it meet the hype and expectations? Keep reading to find out.

Alex Michaelides The Silent Patient
Source: Goodreads

Genre: 

Mystery, Thriller

Length: 

323 pages

Blurb:

Alicia Berenson was a famous painter, happily married to Gabriel Berenson, an equally famous fashion photographer. Until the day that she shot her husband five times in the face. Since that fateful day, six years ago, Alicia hasn’t spoken a word. The silence turns the crime into a sensational mystery, and Alicia becomes one of the most intriguing cases for criminal psychotherapists around the country. Theo Faber believes he can be the one that gets her to speak up, to reveal what happened that night, and to save her. But soon he finds that the case begins to reveal his own demons, long since buried. Theo may or may not save Alicia; but can he save himself?

Overall Rating:

7 out of 10

Plot:

8 out of 10

Characterization:

8 out of 10

Primary Element:

9 out of 10 for its mystery; 6 out of 10 for its thrill

Writing Style:

8 out of 10

Part of a Series: 

No.

Highlighted Takeaway:

The major plot twists. You’d expect twists from a mystery/thriller, but you do not see these coming in the least.

What I Liked:

The book begins similar to Tell Me A Secret by Samantha Hayes (review here). It also has a bit of the, “I know I’m a psychotherapist but…” justification that Hayes’ book had in abundance. I had really disliked Tell Me A Secret and that justification. But, The Silent Patient does not use those words as a justification. Neither does it go down the self-pity path you’d expect from the first few pages. It actually walks that fine line between justification and self-awareness really well, and that aspect contributes to the story rather than giving an excuse for it. As it turns out, done well, that kind of first-person and self-aware narrative can add great perspective to a story, as it does for The Silent Patient.

What I Didn’t Like:

Nothing that would actively dissuade you from reading the book.

Who Should Read It:

Anyone who enjoys a good mystery.

Who Should Avoid:

Anyone who doesn’t enjoy books based on psychotherapy and psychoanalysis.

Read It For:

An interesting mystery with an unexpected plot twist. The Silent Patient is a good read that moves fast and has some really intriguing angles; it’s just not a read that I would classify as, “Oh my God, this is the best thing ever written!” If you enjoy mystery and thrillers, though, go for it. And I have to mention here that, at no point, does it seem like a debut novel. I would definitely read more works by Alex Michaelides.

Got something to add about The Silent Patient? Drop a comment below. And, as always, thanks for stopping by and taking the time to read my review! 🙂

– Rishika

Compelling: Review of Their Last Breath by Sibel Hodge

Sibel Hodge is another author I discovered through NetGalley (much like Mark Edwards, I had one of her books on my list but got a chance to read another one through NetGalley). When I read Into the Darkness, I absolutely got hooked onto her writing style, settings, and characters. And when I saw that an ARC of Their Last Breath was up for review, I (obviously) grabbed it. The fact that it featured Warren Carter from Into the Darkness was a happy bonus. Keep reading to know if Their Last Breath met expectations.

Sibel Hodge Their Last Breath
Source: Goodreads

Genre:

Thriller, Mystery

Length:

380 pages

Blurb:

It took just a few short months for Warren Carter to realize that retirement didn’t suit him too well, especially with the memories of his last case and the ensuing bloodbath still fresh in his mind. Then, six women die in a fire that claims an abandoned building – six women who were chained to their beds with no means of escape. Carter is called back into the system to investigate members of the police force itself, and find the corrupt officer involved in the heinous crime that claimed six lives. As the case unfolds, Carter finds himself relying on an old, unexpected friend. But will he find the culprits in time? Or will he trust the wrong person and let more people die?

Overall Rating:

10 out of 10

Plot:

10 out of 10

Characterization:

10 out of 10

Primary Element:

8 out of 10

Writing Style:

9 out of 10

Part of a Series:

Their Last Breath features Warren Carter and other characters who were part of Into The Darkness.  Warren Carter also makes an appearance in an earlier book. For the most part, though, this can be read as a standalone. References to Into The Darkness are minimal and easily understandable.

Highlighted Takeaway:

There are chapters of the story told from the victim’s perspective. This was surprising in the beginning because it seemed like it would give away a lot of the suspense. But Hodge manages to showcase the victim’s side of things without really disclosing anything about the mystery, while also evoking stronger association for the victim, consequently making you associate with the fight for justice even more.

What I Liked:

The book and story are very well-rounded, right from the characters to the unfolding of the mystery. In a world where cryptic endings are becoming increasingly common (and are often done well), reading a well-rounded book felt extremely satisfying.

What I Didn’t Like:

Can’t think of a single thing that adversely affected the reading experience.

Who Should Read It:

Anyone who enjoys a good mystery or thriller, but with a touch of real-world ugliness.

Who Should Avoid:

Sibel Hodge is a great writer who is unafraid to dabble in very real events. This may make Their Last Breath a bit too realistic at its essence for some to take. I would still recommend it to all mystery and thriller lovers though – its dark side really adds to the reading experience (which, I suppose, is the intention).

Read It For:

Warren Carter – a great character who knows that things are either good or bad, but that sometimes you have to be both.

Thanks to NetGalley and Amazon Publishing UK for a free ARC of this book. I thoroughly enjoyed it and can safely say that, after Their Last Breath, Sibel Hodge is one of my favorite mystery and thriller authors.

Their Last Breath was released on 24 September 2019 and is now available for sale.

As always, thanks for stopping by and reading my book reviews!

– Rishika

Would not recommend: A (Sort-of) Review of Blood Relations by Jonathan Moore

This book lands in the did-not-finish (DNF) pile at around 10%. Would not really recommend it to anyone.

Jonathan Moore Blood Relations
Source: Goodreads

Genre:

Mystery, Thriller (Apparently)

Length: 

357 pages

Blurb:

Probably best to read this on Goodreads here.

Overall Rating:

1 out of 10

Overall Review:

Could not really get past the first 10% of this book.

You know those books that get started right in the middle of a story – sort of like you’re pushed into the deep end of a pool with a flimsy float that eventually starts to do its job?
Blood Relations was like that – but with sharks swimming around you, no end in sight, and the float disintegrates the moment you hit the water.

It just got more and more convoluted and had so much assumed knowledge on part of the reader, that I was lost from the beginning and just kept getting more lost.
Tried to read it three times from the beginning thinking maybe I missed something. I didn’t. Gave up eventually.

Thanks to NetGalley for an ARC of this book. If you want to give it a shot, Jonathan Moore’s Blood Relations is now available for sale.

Thanks for stopping by!

– Rishika

Keeps the Pace Up: A Review of Redemption (By David Baldacci)

Amos Decker is back!

If you’ve read any of my previous reviews of the books starring the man brought to life by David Baldacci, you’ll know that Amos Decker is one of my favorite literary characters. And Redemption, while keeping up the pace that its prequel – the Fallen – had set, just adds more reasons to love the flawed, moralistic, often pig-headed Decker.

David Baldacci Redemption
Source: Goodreads

Genre:

Mystery, Thriller

Length:

418 pages

Blurb:

Amos Decker returns to his hometown of Burlington to visit his wife and daughter’s graves on the day that would have been his daughter’s fourteenth birthday, and comes face to face with Meryl Hawkins. Hawkins had murdered four people, thirteen years ago, including two children. He’d been found guilty of the murder on the basis of overwhelming evidence – evidence that Decker and his partner, Mary Lancaster, had found as detectives assigned to their first homicide. Released due to a terminal illness, Hawkins claims that he’s innocent, and he wants Decker to find the real killer. Decker refuses. Until another murder shocks the town and brings up an unexpected connection to the thirteen-year-old case. Had Decker really made a mistake and caused an innocent man’s incarceration? If Hawkins was innocent, who had really committed the four murders? And how many people may die if Decker doesn’t find the right answers in time?

Overall Rating:

8 out of 10

Plot:

8 out of 10

Characterization:

10 out of 10

Primary Element:

7 out of 10 for its mystery

Writing Style:

7 out of 10

Part of a Series: 

Yes. This is the fifth book in the Amos Decker series, which is best read in chronological order:

  1. Memory Man (review here)
  2. The Last Mile (review here)
  3. The Fix (review here)
  4. The Fallen (review here)

Highlighted Takeaway:

The shift from who Decker began as in Memory Man, to the character he’s now been made into. It’s a risk – playing with the essence of what makes Decker, Decker. But Baldacci has built the shift well over the series, making it such that you can easily associate and empathize with this version of him.

What I Liked:

Each character holds their own in Redemption, making for a book that has multiple personal tangents that tie together really well. Vulnerabilities and strengths of all characters are well-explored to make them all relatable, and get the reader invested in the story.

What I Didn’t Like:

There was nothing specific that is unlikable in the book.

Who Should Read It:

Anyone who enjoys intricate and layered storylines, and anyone who likes complex mysteries that are about more than just the case at hand. Also, anyone who’s a fan of David Baldacci – the Decker series is one of his most popular one and for good reason.

Who Should Avoid:

People that enjoy thrillers where the chill gets into your bone. While Redemption is a thriller in that you’re turning the pages in a rush to know what happens next, it won’t leave you looking over your shoulder. So if that’s what you look for in a thriller, then it may be best to avoid Redemption.

Read It For:

A complex but well-laid storyline, great characterization, and the intriguing development of Amos Decker’s character.

Have you read David Baldacci’s Redemption yet? Share your thoughts on the book (or any other) in the comments below. And thanks for stopping by!

– Rishika

 

The One You Sorta Get, But Not Entirely: A Review of Gorky Park by Martin Cruz Smith

There are a few things you should know about Gorky Park before you read this review for said review to make any sense.

One, Gorky Park was actually written in Russian and translated into English – not something you realize when you read the blurb or buy the book.

Two, the cover may look all new and contemporary, but it’s an old book – originally published in 1981. It’s set in the 1980s in Russia, which was a very, very different time wrought with political nitty-gritties that most people aren’t completely aware of.

Three, in spite of being translated, it is actually very accurate in slang and style, something I realized when I watched Chernobyl right after reading this book and found the characters’ idiosyncrasies making more sense than they otherwise would’ve.

Four, those idiosyncracies make no sense for the first third of the book, until you get into it.

Now that we’ve got those out of the way… let’s get to this review!

Gorky Park Martiz Cruz Smith
Source: Goodreads

Genre:

Mystery, Crime, Fiction

Length: 

592 pages

Blurb:

When Chief Inspector Arkady Renko discovers three mutilated in Gorky Park, he wants to do everything he can to prove that the case is more suitable for KGB than the militia. What begins as a minimal investigation turns into the biggest case of his life. As Renko is forced to question everything he’s believed in and trusted, he discovers more about himself than he thought possible, or even wanted. But will this realization help him find answers, or will it kill him?

Overall Rating:

6 out of 10

Plot:

6 out of 10

Characterization:

7 out of 10

Primary Element:

6 out of 10 for the mystery

Writing Style:

8 out of 10 for its abstract yet endearing style

Part of a Series: 

Apparently, yes. This is the first of the Arkady Renko series.

Highlighted Takeaway:

The way Martin Cruz Smith manages to beautify the saddest and weakest vulnerabilities of human beings while showing that that is what makes us strong in the first place.

What I Liked:

The conflict that Arkady Renko has with himself as a good person dealt a bad hand, wanting to do the right thing even as he’s incredibly tempted to not, so as to protect himself.

What I Didn’t Like:

It was a little too local. There was so much reliance on the political and inter-country relationships at the crux of the story that I think it would leave anyone who wasn’t living in 1981 Russia feeling a little lost. Some perspective might have helped (especially for people like me whose knowledge of geography and history is downright-laughable).

Who Should Read It:

Anyone who enjoys the abstract narrative that is seen quite often in slightly older novels. Anyone who loves Russia-based literature. And anyone who wants to try a mystery with a twist (a very, very large twist… and some small ones).

Who Should Avoid:

Anyone who likes clear-cut plots – this one is super-twisty and can get a bit difficult to follow.

Read It For:

The authentic manner in which it captures a culture, and a look into the relationship-intricacies of two superpowers pitted against each other. Oh and also for this weird oxymoron that the book seems to be – it’s actually engaging and frustrating, simultaneously. You literally feel like putting it aside and not picking it up for a while, but still feel like turning page after page at the same time!

Gorky Park isn’t the easiest read, but it’s definitely an interesting one – to the extent that, in spite of feeling a little lost at many points, I wouldn’t mind reading more from Martin Cruz Smith, and am definitely going to follow the story of Arkady Renko. Before I come around to picking that one up though, there are many books to read and many reviews to share. Next up – The Sleepwalker by Joshua Knox.

Got something to add? Just drop a comment below. And, as always, thanks for stopping by!

– Rishika

A Satisfactory Sequel: A Review of The Forgotten by David Baldacci

The Forgotten is the sequel to Zero Day (review here), which introduces us to John Puller, an Army CID agent who is disciplined, patriotic, and has a strong moral axis. While the introductory book had him handling a matter of national security, The Forgotten has Puller on a case that’s more personal.

A good sequel, it adds a lot of depth to Puller’s character, and makes for a good, quick-paced read with a lot of layers.

The Forgotten by David Baldacci

Source: Goodreads

Genre:

Thriller, Mystery

Length: 

596 pages

Blurb:

John Puller is still struggling to come to terms with the events of his last case. When he visits his father, his plan to unwind during a few weeks off comes to an abrupt halt. His father has received a letter from his aunt, one in which she confides that her town, Paradise, is far from its namesake. Puller hasn’t been in touch with his aunt for a long time, but remembers her for the crucial role she played in positively shaping his childhood. So when he travels to Paradise and discovers that she’s dead, he knows there’s more to the story than meets the eye. The police insist that his aunt’s death was caused by accidental drowning. The town of Paradise is separated into the side that the tourists see, and one that no one wants to see. And Puller has attracted the attention of some very unpleasant men who want to see him dead, or close to it. But Puller will do whatever it takes to get the right answers… as long as he can stay alive long enough to do so.

Overall Rating:

7 out of 10

Plot:

8 out of 10

Characterization:

8 out of 10

Primary Element:

7 out of 10 for its mystery, and 5 out of 10 for the ‘thriller’ factor.

Writing Style:

8 out of 10

Part of a Series: 

Yes. This is Book #2 of the John Puller series. It can be read as a standalone, but is best read in order of the series. If you want to start with this one though, you can, because it gives nothing of Book #1 away.

Highlighted Takeaway:

Some very large plot twists that you don’t see coming, and that really overcome the predictability of some parts of the story arc.

What I Liked:

The way many different storylines that are running in parallel come together to make for a wholesome, very satisfying conclusion. And, the growth of Puller’s character – with every passing experience, Puller takes a closer look at himself and the principles and rules he’s lived by throughout his life, beliefs that are now conflicting with his sense of morality. Baldacci beautifully handles this development without making it seem forced, while also laying the groundwork for what could potentially be a very intriguing story arc for Puller.

What I Didn’t Like:

Some parts of the story were a little too predictable.

Who Should Read It:

Anyone who enjoys a good suburban chaos mystery, David Baldacci’s work, or just a well-rounded, intricate mystery/thriller plot.

Who Should Avoid:

I wouldn’t recommend this to anyone who doesn’t enjoy suspense or mystery, because the book is lengthy and convoluted, and takes its time going through multiple avenues before reaching a conclusion.

Read It For:

The continuation of John Puller’s story.

Have you read any of David Baldacci’s books? Who’s your favorite character – Puller, Maxwell, King, Pine, Decker, or someone else? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

And, as always, thanks for stopping by!

– Rishika

Enjoyable and Intriguing: Review of The Woman In Our House by Andrew Hart

After I read Tell Me A Secret (review here), I’d more or less sworn off of books that tried to imitate the niche genre highlighted by Gillian Flynn. Which is why I picked up The Woman In Our House with some reservations. The blurb was intriguing, but would the book focus more on the thrill factor as I’d hoped or go down the rabbit hole of a main female character’s self-pity was something to be seen.

Thankfully, it met expectations. And made for a captivating read. Before I go ahead, I’m sending NetGalley a big thanks for an ARC of this book! The Woman In Our House comes out on 18 June 2019.

39904261
Source: Goodreads

Genre: Suspense, Psychological thriller

Length: 347 pages

Blurb:

Anna Klein and her husband decide to hire a live-in nanny when she decides to return to work as a literary agent after her second child turns a little over 6 months old. Oaklynn Durst arrives after numerous interviews and with stellar references. The children take to her immediately, leaving Anna feeling a little unwanted even as she remains thankful for Oaklynn and being able to go back to work. But when the children begin suffering from sudden illnesses and bruises, Anna begins to worry that Oaklynn may not be what she seems. But are her own insecurities driving her suspicion, or did she really put her children and even herself and her house under the care of a lying, scheming woman who wouldn’t hesitate to hurt any of them?

Overall Rating: 7 out of 10

Plot: 8 out of 10

Characterization: 8 out of 10

Primary Element: 7 out of 10 for its thrill and suspense

Writing Style: 8 out of 10

Part of a Series: No

Highlighted Takeaway: 

The plot. Let’s just say, “You will not see some things coming at all!”

What I Liked:

Characterization, especially that of the main protagonist, Anna Klien, was really well done. She wasn’t over the top or too self-pitying. In fact, she was just the right amount of neurotic and self-aware to make it easy to empathize with her, and even associate with her in many places.

What I Didn’t Like:

Similar to Tell Me A Secret, the men were only present when convenient. Even Anna’s husband is more ‘her husband’ than ‘a supporting character’. Given that he actually had a role to play in the book, there should have been a little more focus on him.

Who Should Read It:

Anyone who enjoys a good suspense read, because it is surely that while definitely not being a ‘mess with your mind’ style psychological thriller. Those who like Mary Higgins Clark’s older books would probably like this one.

Who Should Avoid:

Anyone who doesn’t like books that focus on women as central characters. The women in this book aren’t unrealistic in all action and thought in this book, but it’s still predominantly a woman-centric story.

Read It For:

Reminding yourself that the world still has those people who don’t exactly believe in the “live and let live” ideology, and that things aren’t always as they seem.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my book review. Say Hi! in the comments below!

– Rishika