REVIEW: THE COUPLE AT THE TABLE, BY SOPHIE HANNAH

Jane and William are enjoying their honeymoon at an exclusive couples-only resort…

…until Jane receives a chilling note warning her to “Beware of the couple at the table nearest to yours.” At dinner that night, five other couples are present, and none of their tables is any nearer or farther away than any of the others. It’s almost as if someone has set the scene in order to make the warning note meaningless—but why would anyone do that?

Jane has no idea.

But someone in this dining room will be dead before breakfast, and all the evidence will suggest that no one there that night could have possibly committed the crime.

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In a stunning and twisted story, The Couple at the Table takes the reader through a series of events that lead to the murder of one of them.

Lucy’s husband was stolen by Jane, her life has turned upside down, and even her vacation at a resort she loved had changed everything for her.

But when Jane is murdered during that vacation, everyone is a suspect, including Lucy, but Simon Waterhouse and Charlie Zailer are determined to find the truth.

So many twists and turns carry the reader through until the truth unfolds in strange ways. 4.5 stars.

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REVIEW: THE NURSERY, BY SUE WATSON

Then: Morning light shines into the nursery, casting shadows across the pale pink walls and wooden cot in the middle of the room. She opens the door expecting to hear the soft coo of her daughter Sofia stretching herself awake. But the room is silent. The cot is empty. Her little girl has vanished…

Now: Twelve years have passed, but Emily will never forget the night her life changed forever and she’s happy to have her daughter back beside her. A teenager now, Sofia—who was once a star student—is getting into trouble at school and she’s started asking questions about when she was a baby, but Emily can’t tell her what really happened the night she went missing. Nobody would understand why Emily did what she did, and if anyone ever found out, she could lose her daughter forever.

But when Emily catches Sofia messaging a stranger online, her heart pounds in her chest as she reads the last message received.

Your mother isn’t who you think she is.

Days later, Emily returns home to find the house silent. She checks every room but Sofia has vanished, again. She shudders as she remembers that night in the nursery. Has her past finally caught up with her? And is she already too late to save her precious daughter?

 
 
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From the first pages of The Nursery, the reader is gripped by the danger that seems ever-present in the lives of Emily and Sofia. There are secrets Emily carries from the past, and now she is constantly watching out for Sofia and what might happen to her because of her online connections.

At first, we think we know Emily’s secrets, but more of them come stumbling out from unexpected places, and a dangerous person from her past, aided by someone new in her present, keeps me on tenterhooks. And even when we think we have the answers another twist comes at the very end. A 5 star read.

 
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REVIEW: THE FAMILY REMAINS, BY LISA JEWELL


Early one morning on the shore of the Thames, DCI Samuel Owusu is called to the scene of a gruesome discovery. When Owusu sends the evidence for examination, he learns the bones are connected to a cold case that left three people dead on the kitchen floor in a Chelsea mansion thirty years ago.

Rachel Rimmer has also received a shock—news that her husband, Michael, has been found dead in the cellar of his house in France. All signs point to an intruder, and the French police need her to come urgently to answer questions about Michael and his past that she very much doesn’t want to answer.

After fleeing London thirty years ago in the wake of a horrific tragedy, Lucy Lamb is finally coming home. While she settles in with her children and is just about to purchase their first-ever house, her brother takes off to find the boy from their shared past whose memory haunts their present.

As they all race to discover answers to these convoluted mysteries, they will come to find that they’re connected in ways they could have never imagined.

In this masterful standalone sequel to her haunting New York Times bestseller, The Family Upstairs, Lisa Jewell proves she is writing at the height of her powers with another jaw-dropping, intricate, and affecting novel about the lengths we will go to protect the ones we love and uncover the truth.

 

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As we begin the journey with The Family Remains, we are introduced to characters that are connected to events from the past, and in some ways, their lives have intersected. At first, we meet Henry Lamb whose past centered around an old house where terrible things happened. We slowly meet other characters connected to him, most of whom are apparently hiding things. And Henry is diligently searching for someone from his distant past, who keeps eluding him.

The story also begins with the discovery of a body in the Thames, which seems to be tied to that same old house.

How will all of these characters finally come together, and what do their secrets tell us? How did their lives go wrong, and how did they all manage to keep their pasts at bay? The stories unfold in different timelines, and in many ways, they were convoluted, but as we learn more about how the characters are connected, we are intrigued. A sometimes confusing story, this one earned 4 stars.

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REVIEW: THE LAST TO VANISH, BY MEGAN MIRANDA

Ten years ago, Abigail Lovett fell into a job she loves, managing The Passage Inn, a cozy, upscale resort nestled in the North Carolina mountain town of Cutter’s Pass. Cutter’s Pass is best known for its outdoor offerings—rafting and hiking, with access to the Appalachian trail by way of a gorgeous waterfall—and its mysterious history. As the book begins, the string of unsolved disappearances that has haunted the town is once again thrust into the spotlight when journalist Landon West, who was staying at the inn to investigate the story of the vanishing trail, then disappears himself.

 

Abby has sometimes felt like an outsider within the community, but she’s come to view Cutter’s Pass as her home. When Landon’s brother Trey shows up looking for answers, Abby can’t help but feel the town closing ranks. And she’s still on the outside. When she finds incriminating evidence that may bring them closer to the truth, Abby soon discovers how little she knows about her coworkers, neighbors, and even those closest to her.

 
 
 
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 I loved following Abby’s journey to discover what was behind the mysterious disappearances in The Last to Vanish. She had the sense that there were answers, but that certain townspeople and individuals were keeping deep secrets. What were the connections between the residents and the disappearances?

Just when I thought I might know the answers, especially after Abby discovers a secret locker, I was surprised by what she did uncover.

A story that kept me turning pages, this one earned five stars.

 
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REVIEW: THE IT GIRL, BY RUTH WARE

April Clarke-Cliveden was the first person Hannah Jones met at Oxford.

Vivacious, bright, occasionally vicious, and the ultimate It girl, she quickly pulled Hannah into her dazzling orbit. Together, they developed a group of devoted and inseparable friends—Will, Hugh, Ryan, and Emily—during their first term. By the end of the year, April was dead.

Now, a decade later, Hannah and Will are expecting their first child, and the man convicted of killing April, former Oxford porter John Neville, has died in prison. Relieved to have finally put the past behind her, Hannah’s world is rocked when a young journalist comes knocking and presents new evidence that Neville may have been innocent. As Hannah reconnects with old friends and delves deeper into the mystery of April’s death, she realizes that the friends she thought she knew all have something to hide…including a murder.

 

 

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As we follow this mysterious story of The It Girl, we are led on a journey into the past and the present, by way of narratives labeled Before and After. Sometimes the pursuit takes us to interesting places, but we also begin to find it a little slow going, as so much continues to be hidden behind more secrets and lies.

Who can Hannah trust, as she tries to find answers? As I lost myself in the questions, I also found the victim, April, to be a horrible person so much of the time. Beneath her charm, beauty, and hidden beneath the protections of her money and things, was a cruel streak that came out on a regular basis. Not that we want to blame the victim, but so much of what happened to her had to result partially from her own behavior.

Nevertheless, there were many who wanted the truth. So Hannah pursues it. In the end, the twists and turns kept us going until finally we do get the stunning answers. I thought I had it figured out, but at the last minute, there was a definite turn in an unexpected direction. I am giving this one 4.5 stars, mainly because it was tedious at times. I had to keep going, though. I wanted to know!

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REVIEW: THE SECOND HUSBAND, BY KATE WHITE

After losing her husband, Derrick, in what appears to have been a random street crime, thirtysomething Emma has built a new life with widower Tom, who is kind, handsome, driven, and successful. Emma is finally able to feel safe again, both in her relationship with Tom and in the home they’ve made together on the Connecticut shore.

Then one day a homicide detective shows up at Emma and Tom’s door asking questions. Though Emma had been cleared of her husband’s murder, it appears that law enforcement is taking another look at her and the case.

What do they know? Are they on the right track this time? And most importantly, will the renewed investigation ruin Emma’s chances of a happy life?

With twists and turns all the way to the last page, this fast-paced, expertly plotted novel will have you asking that age-old question: how well do you really know the ones you love?


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From the very first page of The Second Husband, the reader is thrust into mysterious events surrounding the first husband’s murder. And as the cold case reheats, we are unsure about what Emma’s second husband might have had to do with it all.

As each new piece of the mystery leads us down one twisty path after another, we are definitely uncertain about what to believe. The intensity grows and until the very last page, we are wondering what will unfold next. A page turner that earned 5 stars from me.

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REVIEW: THE WIDOW, BY K. L. SLATER

My husband was not a monster. No matter what they say…

The day my husband, Michael, stepped in front of a lorry after being questioned by the police, my world fell apart. He was devoted to me and our six-year-old daughter. But they’d connected him to the disappearance of a young mother from our tiny village.

Now I stand at Michael’s funeral, clutching my little girl’s hand, with tears in my eyes as I insist to all our friends that he died an innocent man. Yet the questions have started, and nothing I say will stop them digging for the truth.

But none of them can read the secrets in my heart, or know about the phone I found hidden in his toolbox…

I’m determined that my daughter will not remember her father as a monster. I will erase any hint of wrongdoing in this house whatever the cost.

Because to keep my daughter safe, the last thing I need is for people to start looking at me…

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From the rather slow beginning of The Widow, we are aware of secrets Michael has kept from Kate, especially after the police begin interrogating him on several occasions. Her experience with him in the marriage has always seemed good, and until these events happened, she had always trusted him. But now she isn’t sure she can believe anything he says. When the doubt grows, she is just about ready to ask more questions of him…and then he is struck and killed by a lorry.

The village turns on her and soon she even loses her job. How can she find answers to her questions? Will she find a way to believe in him again? Darkness grows with the suspicions, and soon we are also wondering what is true and what is not. A book that held my interest throughout, but because of the slow beginning, I am giving this one 4 stars

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REVIEW: THE HOMEWRECKERS, BY MARY KAY ANDREWS

Hattie Kavanaugh went to work restoring homes for Kavanaugh & Son Restorations at eighteen, married the boss’s son at twenty, and became a widow at twenty-five. Now, she’s passionate about her work, but that’s the only passion in her life. “Never love something that can’t love you back,” is advice her father-in-law gives her, but Hattie doesn’t follow it and falls head-over-heels for a money pit of a house. She’s determined to make it work, but disaster after disaster occurs, and Hattie’s dream might cost Kavanaugh & Son their livelihood. Hattie needs money, and fast.

When a slick Hollywood producer shows up in her hometown of Savannah, Georgia, she gets a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity: star in a beach house renovation reality show called The Homewreckers, cast against a male lead who may be a love interest, or may be the ultimate antagonist. Soon, there’s more at stake than bad pipes and dry rot: during the demolition, evidence comes to light that points to the mysterious disappearance of a young wife and mother years before.

With a burned out detective investigating the case, an arsonist on the loose, two men playing with her emotions, and layers upon layers of vintage wallpaper causing havoc, it’s a question of who will flip, who will flop, and if Hattie will ever get her happily-ever-after.

 

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From the very beginning, The Homewreckers was the kind of story that captures readers, especially those who have a yen for renovating houses. I loved the characters, especially Hattie, and as we followed the fixer-upper moments, I enjoyed watching how everything played out.
Suspense came along, too, when a body showed up on the property, and just when we thought we had the mystery all figured out, there were more surprises.

In the end, Hattie gave in to the possibility of her happily-ever-after, and I found myself hoping to join her and her new love on another journey. 5 stars.

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REVIEW: THE LONG WEEKEND, BY GILLY MACMILLAN

Three couples

Two bodies

One secret

Dark Fell Barn is a “perfectly isolated” retreat, or so says its website when Jayne books a reservation for her friends. A quiet place, far removed from the rest of the world, is exactly what they need.

The women arrive for a girls’ night ahead of their husbands. There’s ex-Army Jayne, hardened and serious, but also damaged. Ruth, the driven doctor and new mother who is battling demons of her own. Young Emily, just wed and insecure, the newest addition of this tight-knit band. Missing this year is Edie, who was the glue holding them together, until her husband died suddenly.

But what they hoped would be a relaxing break soon turns to horror. Upon arrival at Dark Fell Barn, the women find a devastating note claiming one of their husbands will be murdered. There are no phones, no cell service to check on their men. Friendships fracture as the situation spins wildly out of control. Betrayal can come in many forms.

This group has kept each other’s secrets for far too long.

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The Long Weekend begins as three women travel to a barn they will be renting as a retreat. Their husbands are supposed to join them the next day.

But soon things go awry, and just when we think nothing can get worse, it does. A threatening letter, supposedly from one of the women in their group who was not invited, stirs things up and soon paranoia and fear dominate them all.

Ruth deals with her feelings by drinking too much, to the point of blackouts; Emily is focused on trying to get in touch with her husband; and Jayne is aloof and dealing with her own problems silently. In addition, the owners of the property are struggling with health issues.

Meanwhile, an unidentified narrator leads us down a path to his own twisted and dangerous ending.

As the twists and turns get darker and more frightening, we are not sure how or when anyone will find safety. 4.5 stars.

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REVIEW: DO I KNOW YOU?, BY SARAH STROHMEYER

Jane Ellison is a “super recognizer” able to identify strangers by the slightest facial details—the curve of a head, the arch of an eyebrow. When she spies human rights activist and heiress Bella Valencia in a crowded Boston airport, Jane’s convinced she’s found the person responsible for her sister Kit’s disappearance and presumed death eleven years earlier. But her attempt to detain the suspect ends with Jane herself fired and humiliated.

As Bella prepares to marry Will Pease, scion of the uber-wealthy, influential, and ruthless Pease family, famous for their wholesome wellness and lifestyle brand, on their private Cape Cod island, she grows increasingly anxious that her dire secret will be revealed and used against her by—of all people—the man she loves.

She has reason to fear: Jane is ready to risk everything for the chance to publicly expose Bella’s crimes at her upcoming celebrity wedding. But the more she digs into what happened that night, the more she questions her own assumptions.

Combining magnetic, wise-cracking narration and a skillfully layered plot, Do I Know You? is a gripping psychological thriller and tale of redemption that reveals the power of a sister’s love.
 
 

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Alternating narrators delve into the lives of the characters, from the wealthy Pease family to FBI agent Jane Ellison. Other characters fill in the layered story and offer just enough intrigue to keep me reading Do I Know You?

I loved the setting of Boston and Cape Cod as it offered up the bits and pieces of the lives of them all. I was curious about how family friends with two toddlers dropped in on Jane and her boyfriend Erik in their tiny guest cottage, expecting to be waited on…and offering no help with cooking or cleaning up. As it turned out, the guests had a secret agenda which morphed into a frightening series of events for Jane.

Jane is searching for answers to what happened to her sister years before, and everyone seems determined to keep her from discovering whether she had disappeared or died. Meanwhile, the wealthy possible perpetrators are planning a huge wedding nearby, so Jane finds a way to join the event.

Suddenly a stunning series of twists and turns lead Jane to an unexpected denouement. 4.5 stars.
 
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