Killman Creek

 

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Author: Rachel Caine
Genres: Thriller, Horror, Mystery
Read: Dec. 2017

 

OMG, Why did I read this?? Stillhouse Lake was disturbing enough! I didn’t plan to read this one, but damn, I just had to know what was going to happen!

It’s pretty much impossible to review Killman Creek without spoilers for Stillhouse Lake since it ends on a huge cliffhanger, so if you haven’t read Stillhouse Lake yet, stop here. I won’t discuss any spoilers for Killman Creek though.

Thank you to NetGalley and Thomas & Mercer for providing me with a free electronic copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

—– spoilers for Stillhouse Lake below—–

This book picks up right where the first one left off. Most of the criminals from the prison break have been caught, but of course Melvin Royal is still on the loose. Gwen decides to leave her kids behind with Javier and Kezia and go off with Sam in search of her ex-husband.

Killman Creek is such an emotional roller coaster. If you like thrillers, then this is the book for you, my heart was beating a mile a minute every time I picked up this book. I struggled with the first book in that I found it very graphically disturbing. This one was worse in that it was really emotionally disturbing on top of still being graphic.

I thought Lanny and Connor were basically going to be absent from this book, which I would have been okay with because I can’t deal with people who mess with kids and their story-line stressed me out so much. But they still had a large role in the book and both narrated sections of the story. This definitely made it a better novel and Caine explored a lot of interesting moral themes. We get more insight into Lanny and Connor’s experiences and the emotional struggles of having a serial killer for a father. Especially for Connor who was so young when his Dad was convicted and can only remember the good things about their relationship and really wants a father figure in his life.

This book is definitely a page-turner and once I started it I could not put it down or stop thinking about it. I’m giving it 4 stars because it really is a good book and Rachel Caine definitely made me feel things, but overall it’s just not the book for me. It reminds me a little of Behind Closed Doors, which I read last year, in that it’s a good book, it was just way too dark and disturbing. I’m surprised to see there is going to be a third book next year, but fortunately this one didn’t end on a cliffhanger, so this is where I will step out from this series.

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The Last Place You Look

Rating: 
Author: Kristen Lepionka
Genres: Mystery, Thriller
Read: July 2017

 

This was a pretty dark read, but The Last Place You Look had everything I look for in a good mystery novel. It had suspense, a compelling plot, and a great detective/PI. There were a lot of layers to this story, which kept it engaging throughout the entire novel. Once I got into it, I could not put this book down!

It’s a pretty straight forward detective novel. Private Investigator Roxane Weary is hired to look into the disappearance of teenager Sarah Cook, whose parents were murdered 15 years prior. Sarah hasn’t been seen since the night of her parents murder and her boyfriend Brad was convicted of the crimes and has been sitting on death row ever since. However, Brad’s sister is convinced of his innocence and hires Roxane when she sees a woman she believes to be Sarah Cook pumping gas at the local station. Roxane tries to track the woman down to see if there might be more to the story.

I really like a mystery where I’m just as invested in the personal life of the PI and I really liked Roxane Weary. She was facing her own struggles and made some questionable decisions, but not unbelievable ones. Roxane was smart, as was Lepionka’s writing. She did some great things with this novel and I thought it had some great social commentary on how women are ignored, belittled, and dismissed by law enforcement. The Belmont police frustrated me so much in this book and I have to give an author props when they can make me empathize with a character as much as I did with Roxane. It infuriated me the way the police kept dismissing missing women as runaways with mental health issues, although it sadly didn’t surprise me.

I’m excited to see this listed as “Roxane Weary #1”, I’d definitely be interested to continue this as a series!

In a Dark, Dark Wood

Rating: 
Author: Ruth Ware
Genres: Mystery, Thriller
Read: June 2017

 

This was my second Ruth Ware book. There are definitely better mystery/thriller novels out there, but I did really enjoy both In a Dark, Dark Wood and The Woman in Cabin 10. They both drew me in right from the start, were fairly fast paced, easy to read, and intriguing.

In a Dark, Dark Wood is set in, you guessed it, a cabin in the woods. Nora is really surprised when her childhood best friend Clare invites her to a weekend hen party at her cottage. Nora and Clare haven’t talked in years, but she reluctantly agrees to attend, curious about why Clare has decided to contact her after so many years. The party has an odd assortment of guests and as the night progresses, strange things start happening, leading Nora to suspect they may not be the only ones there.

In a Dark, Dark Wood is Ware’s first novel and I do think she honed her skill a bit better in The Woman in Cabin 10, which I preferred. In a Dark, Dark Wood did not really deliver what I thought I was getting from the synopsis. I was expecting a creepy thriller that was going to keep me up a night, a lighter version of Mark Edwards Follow You Home, which had the creepiest atmosphere. This might be an unfair comparison as Follow You Home falls in the Horror genre, but In a Dark, Dark Wood was neither creepy nor scary. I still enjoyed the story, but the book jacket and the name are both pretty misleading.

I found both Ware’s novels engaging and fast paced, but I did think the pacing was a little off for both plots. I thought that the climax of both novels came at about the 2/3 mark, which felt a bit early to me and make the last third feel like it was dragging. I found the plot of this book to be pretty predictable, but was improved in The Woman in Cabin 10.

So overall, not my favourite mystery/thriller, but I do enjoy Ware’s novels and plan to read her new novel, The Lying Game.

Stillhouse Lake


Rating:
 ⭐⭐⭐.5
Author: Rachel Caine
Genres: Thriller, Mystery
Read: Nov. 2017

 

Oh my goodness, what a roller coaster ride! This book was so intense!

I was really impressed with the first chapter, Stillhouse Lake had such a strong start that it just instantly pulls you into the story and I couldn’t put it down once I started! I often put books on my TBR, forget what they’re about, and then start reading them without re-reading the synopsis, so I had absolutely no idea what I was getting into when I picked this up and even the first chapter was a shock to me.

The book starts with a drunk driver hitting Gina Royal’s garage, inadvertently revealing the horrors her husband has been hiding in his “workshop”. Gina had no idea the depth of deception of her serial killer husband, Melvin Royal, and is shocked to find a body hanging in their garage. The story then jumps 4 years ahead, Mel having been convicted and put on death row. Gina was tried as his helper, but was acquitted and has changed her identity (Gwen Proctor) and the names of her two children in an effort to escape the internet trolls screaming for her blood.

This was a really interesting premise because it looks at the lives of the family of a convicted serial killer. Psycho- and sociopaths, and abusers, are often very good at hiding their depravity and acting as normal members of society. They can often deceive their friends and co-workers, with their victims being the only ones to ever know their true selves. But it’s hard to believe you could be happily married to a serial killer and have no idea they were secretly torturing and killing women in your garage. This is the problem Gwen faces. Even though she was acquitted, few people believe her innocence and in the age of the internet, trolls make her life, and the lives of her children, hell.

Women are definitely the victims of an obscene amount of vitriol on the internet. It’s hard to come up with any feminist writer that I follow who hasn’t talked about the abuse and death threats they’ve received just for advocating for women’s issues. Even the average woman isn’t safe on social media from unsolicited opinions, anger, and let’s just say, unwanted photos. Most trolls won’t take their threats any further than an internet post, they mostly get off on psychological trauma, but there are the odd psychopaths out there, so I didn’t blame Gwen for taking the threats seriously and for the extreme lengths she went to protect herself and her children.

This is definitely a psychological thriller and I have to say, it really did mess with me. I was really been torn between 3 and 4 stars because I think this is a really good thriller novel, but I personally had to rate it down a little because I found parts of the novel so disturbing (I can’t handle anything that messes with children). Honestly, I kind of think it needs a trigger warning at the front. But it was a really fast paced novel that explored the theme of trust a lot. My heart broke for Gwen, she kept trusting all the wrong people and I can’t imagine how this would mess with your mind and instincts. I think I would have lost it if I was her, but she had to be strong for her children and I really admired her character for it.

I noticed this had a sequel when I was about half way through, which surprised me, but it had the perfect kind of cliffhanger at the end. One that gives you closure to the story, but has the perfect hook to pull you into the next one. I’m not quite sure if I can handle another book as intense and disturbing as this one, but I will probably still read it because I just need to know how it all turns out!!

Into The Water


Rating:
 ⭐⭐
Author: Paula Hawkins
Genres: Mystery, Thriller
Read: May 2017

 

I enjoyed The Girl on the Train, definitely not as much as it seems everyone else did, but in my opinion Into the Water was a mess.

There are so many different viewpoints and characters in this book, but Hawkins barely does any of them justice. I don’t mind large casts of characters when they’re done right, but it was extremely hard to follow from the beginning and I didn’t find the story compelling.

Into the Water is a story about Beckford’s violent history of being a hotspot for women who commit suicide in the river. It opens with mother Nel Abbott, a woman who has always been intrigued by the women who have died in the river, showing up dead after having thrown herself off a cliff. There are questions about whether this relates to the earlier suicide of Nel’s daughter’s best friend and a huge cast of related characters emerges to narrate the story.

Like I said, I didn’t find the premise of the “suicide river” very compelling, it’s pretty obvious that some of these deaths weren’t actually suicide, and I thought the whole novel was poorly executed. The red herrings seemed obvious to me and I found the pace of the novel very slow.

Overall, most of the characters were unlikable. I don’t have a problem with unlikable characters as long as they’re compelling, but these weren’t. I thought Nickie and her sister added very little to the story, as did Josh. I felt like Louise and Helen could have both been interesting characters, but since we had to share their plots with a dozen other characters, they felt pretty flat to me and were lacking development.

I did enjoy Jules and Lena, but Lena’s character development was pretty lacking as well, leaving Jules as the only character that I thought showed any growth. Jules is Nel Abbott’s sister and they had a falling out 20 years previously over a shared misunderstanding. I thought it was a good portrayal of how things that happen to us as children can colour our entire life view and create family rifts that seem impossible to heal.

Anyways, I liked, didn’t love, Girl on the Train, so this was a definite step down for me, but I’m sure it’s still going to get lots of hype. I wouldn’t recommend.