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

A unique thriller: Review of Here to Stay by Mark Edwards

A big thanks to NetGalley for an ARC of Here To Stay by Mark Edwards. I discovered Mark Edwards on NetGalley with The Lucky Ones, and have really enjoyed his work since. The Retreat, I thought, was even better than the former. So when I saw Here to Stay up for grabs, I absolutely had to give it a read.

Did it meet expectations? Read on to find out.

Mark Edwards Here to Stay
Source: Goodreads

Genre:

Thriller, Psychological thriller

Length: 

370 pages

Blurb:

Elliot lives a simple life. He never felt like anything was really missing, until he met Gemma Robinson. Suddenly, she seemed to fill a void he hadn’t realized he even felt. They were married within a matter of months. When Gemma mentions that her parents were visiting for a couple of weeks, Elliot did the only thing he found right – invited them to stay over. Days later, Gemma’s parents and extremely quiet sister, Chloe, come over. And never leave. They encroach on every aspect of Elliot’s life, while Chloe remains silent and mostly to herself, and Elliot begins to suspect that they are trying to escape from something they’ve done. As Gemma’s parents show no signs of leaving, Elliot decides to dig into their lives to find answers and save his marriage. The truth, however, is much worse than he could have ever imagined.

Overall Rating:

7 out of 10

Plot:

8 out of 10

Characterization:

7 out of 10

Primary Element:

6 out of 10 for its thrill

Writing Style:

7 out of 10

Part of a Series: 

No.

Highlighted Takeaway:

Like with all other books by Mark Edwards, the highlighted takeaway is the end. There are very few writers who can conclude a thriller with a real surprise, but Edwards manages to do so consistently.

What I Liked:

The story doesn’t slow down for a single moment, in spite of being based on such a simple premise.

What I Didn’t Like:

Oddly enough, Elliot. Although his character was developed well and a lot of his behavior made sense because of that arc, he seems too submissive to be real. It made it a little hard to associate with him because I genuinely could not imagine any person being the way he was.

Who Should Read It:

Anyone who enjoys thrillers. This is a different style of thriller, but definitely keeps the pages turning.

Who Should Avoid:

Anyone who does not enjoy psychological thrillers, or stories based on characters who are just plain sociopathic.

Read It For:

An interesting and not-too-commonly-done take on the thriller genre. With so many thrillers out there, this one is a fresh (albeit slightly disturbing) read.

Here to Stay was published on 1st September 2019. If you haven’t tried Mark Edwards yet, this is as good a place to start as any.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my review!

– Rishika

Great start, but fizzles out: Review of Long Road to Mercy by David Baldacci

David Baldacci introduces a new lead character – FBI Agent Atlee Pine – in the first of a series dedicated to her. A well-developed, likable heroine, Atlee Pine leaves an impression in Long Road to Mercy. The book had some great parts and some not-so-great parts. Keep going to read the entire review!

Long road to mercy - David Baldacci - Atlee Pine
Source: Goodreads

Genre:

Thriller

Length:

404 Pages

Blurb:

Atlee Pine was six years old when a kidnapper snuck into the room she shared with her twin sister, used a random nursery rhyme to select his victim, and left with Mercy. Atlee never saw her sister again. But the event drove her to become the justice-keeper she is. Thirty years later, the only agent assigned to the FBI’s Arizona Resident Agency at Shattered Rock, she is responsible for the protection of the Grand Canyon. But even with her experience and outlook, Atlee could not pre-empt the convoluted web she finds herself in when she begins to investigate a stabbed Grand Canyon mule and its missing rider. Soon, Atlee realizes that those she considered her allies may not be so, and enemies – known and unknown – are waiting at every turn. Will Atlee win the fight for the democracy of the country she swore to protect, or will her battle end with her life?

Overall Rating:

6 out of 10

Plot:

8 out of 10

Characterization:

8 out of 10

Primary Element:

7 out of 10 for its suspense-filled storyline, and 6 out of 10 for its thrill.

Writing Style:

7 out of 10

Part of a Series: 

Yes. This is the first of the Atlee Pine series. The second book, A Minute to Midnight, comes out in November 2019 (and looks pretty kick-ass).

Highlighted Takeaway:

Atlee Pine, as created by Baldacci. Admitting that it’s his first time attempting a female lead, Baldacci does a good job of creating a character that is easy to associate with, and complex enough to be realistic.

What I Liked:

The plot: It was really well-woven, introducing the reader to unknown ideas that could very well be real (some aspects may or may not be based in reality, in fact – I didn’t check).

What I Didn’t Like:

The depth of the Grand Canyon’s geography: While it was meant as an immersive narrative, it got a bit too mundane and made me zone out a bit when there was little but details of the Canyon for pages on end.

Who Should Read It:

Anyone who enjoys political thrillers and other Baldacci books. Or anyone who likes crime fiction.

Who Should Avoid:

The book has nothing that would specifically turn someone off.

Read It For:

The beginning of a new character series that shows a lot of promise and sets the stage for a story arc that you would want to follow, if you enjoy crime fiction.

Got something to share about Long Road to Mercy or David Baldacci or Atlee Pine? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

And, as always, thanks for stopping by and reading my review!

– Rishika

A Chilling Must-Read: A Review of Their Lost Daughters by Joy Ellis

This was one of the first books I tried off of Amazon Prime Reading. And it definitely made me glad that this option exists for Amazon Prime users, and those without Kindle Unlimited subscriptions. An interesting enough premise led to me borrowing this one, and I have to say that the book far exceeded expectations.

Read on to know why.

Their Lost Daughters by Joy Ellis
Source: Goodreads

Genre: 

Thriller, Suspense

Length: 

331 pages

Blurb:

A young girl’s body is found on an isolated beach – she was drowned. A second girl – Toni – is found wandering alone, drugged, and with foggy memories of a nightmare. A third girl is missing, her name – Emily – the only thing that Toni remembers; her name and that she had been taken away from the party from where Toni had barely escaped with her life. Another girl has been missing nearly a decade, and her mother is forcing the police to reopen her case with the help of the press. DI Rowan Jackman and DS Marie Evans need to make sense of all these events and find the culprits. But the missing girls are only the beginning. And the Fenland police may just not be prepared to handle the horrors that begin unraveling as they fight against time to find the missing girls, and save others from meeting the same fate.

Overall Rating:

9 out of 10

Plot:

9 out of 10

Characterization:

9 out of 10

Primary Element:

9 out of 10 for its suspense and thrill

Writing Style:

9 out of 10

Part of a Series: 

Yes. This is Book 2 in the DI Jackman and DS Evans series, but can be read as a standalone too. I haven’t read Book 1, but had no trouble following Their Lost Daughters.

Highlighted Takeaway:

The authentic feel of the Fenlands, which comes across in the descriptions of places as well as the conversation.

What I Liked:

A really well-layered, twisted story, where all arcs come together extremely well at the end. It is quite predictable, and does not shy away from showcasing real-world horrors that we wish didn’t exist, but need to accept.

What I Didn’t Like:

I can’t really pinpoint any one thing, because I thoroughly enjoyed the entire book.

Who Should Read It:

Anyone who likes crime thrillers with a spooky old town feel, and who enjoy suspense.

Who Should Avoid:

Anyone who can’t digest graphic scenes – there was no gore as such in this book, but there were some scenes that hit really hard and may not be everyone’s cup of tea.

Read It For:

The very enjoyable mix of spooky but charming setting, real-world horrors, reality checks, and an intriguing storyline.

After Their Lost Daughters, I will definitely be adding more of Joy Ellis to my to-be-read pile. The first book in the series – The Murderer’s Son – seems interesting and I’m going to try to make it my next read by Ellis.

If you’re looking for a really good suspense/thriller with a whole bunch of twists, pick up Their Lost Daughters. I can say with some confidence that you won’t be disappointed.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my review!

– 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

Good Premise, Weak Implementation: A Review of Trance (By Adam Southward)

Thanks to NetGalley and Thomas & Mercer for an ARC of this book. Trance released on 1 July and is now available for sale. I wish I could’ve enjoyed it more because the blurb had been incredibly promising. But there were some issues that just couldn’t be ignored in this psychological thriller.

Oh well… Let’s get right to the review of Adam Southward’s Trance.

Southward-Trance-28012-CV-FL-v4.indd
Source: Goodreads

Genre:

Psychological thriller, Mystery

Length:

336 page

Blurb:

Three University scientists are found dead in a horrifying murder-suicide. Victor Lazar is found outside the room and imprisoned as the only suspect. But soon, other inmates are driven to suicide. And then the psychologist assigned to Lazar kills himself.

Private therapist, Alex Madison, used to be one of the best forensic psychologists in the city until the events that led to his downfall, personally and professionally. When he’s called in to interview and diagnose Lazar, he knows it’s a chance at redemption. But the case forces him to look beyond everything he’s known and learned about psychology and psychiatry. Will Madison find his redemption? Or will he end up losing everything he still holds dear in the revenge saga that Lazar is building?

Overall Rating:

5 out of 10

Plot:

7 out of 10

Characterization:

5 out of 10

Primary Element:

4 out of 10 for the psychological thriller aspect, 6 out of 10 for its mystery

Writing Style:

6 out of 10

Part of a Series:

According to Goodreads, this is the first of the books in the series of the primary protagonist – Alex Madison.

Highlighted Takeaway:

The basic premise – if this had been explored more, it would’ve been a very different (and much better) read.

What I Liked:

The book doesn’t shy away from being violent and abrupt, making it a fast-paced read.

What I Didn’t Like:

  • The psychological basis of the story was just a given, which takes away the entire mystery of, “How is this happening?”
  • Characters were one-dimensional
  • Plot twists were predictable
  • The main protagonist, although probably one of the better parts of the book, could probably have done with a little more rationality. Although not as cringe-worthy and annoying, Madison’s character reminded me a lot of another confused character that I’d absolutely detested – Lorna – from Samantha Hayes’ Tell Me A Secret (review of that apparent psychological thriller is here).

Who Should Read It:

Anyone looking for a quick mystery, pseudo-thriller – as long as you’re not expecting a book that stays with you forever.

Who Should Avoid:

Anyone who likes psychological thrillers because of the depth they often offer into the human psyche – Trance has a good premise but does nothing to follow it up.

Read It For:

A fast holiday or non-serious weekend read option.

All in all, I’d say that Trance doesn’t have to be one your TBR list. Adam Southward is a talented writer who probably has some great ideas. I’d love to see them more fleshed out though so as to actually make for a compelling, memorable read. As for Trance… it’s a good option for when you want something fast and not too sensible.

Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to read this review.

– Rishika