What I Read: October 2021

Claire Douglas: Couple at No. 9

When pregnant Saffron Cutler moves into 9 Skelton Place with boyfriend Tom and sets about renovations the last thing she expects is builders uncovering a body – two bodies, in fact. Forensics indicate the bodies have been buried at least thirty years. Nothing Saffy need worry herself over. Until the police launch a murder investigation and ask to speak to the cottage’s former owner – her grandmother, Rose. Rose is in a care home and Alzheimer’s means her memory is increasingly confused. She can’t help the police but it is clear she remembers something. As Rose’s fragmented memories resurface, and the police dig ever deeper, Saffy fears she and the cottage are being watched. What happened thirty years ago?Why did no one miss the victims? What part did her grandmother play? And is Saffy now in danger?

I loved this storyline – and all the characters within it. The author was able to keep the tension high, pulling some amazing and unexpected twists that I did not see coming. The story was told from multiple points of view, in different timelines and you might think that this would make it hard to follow but actually it wasn’t at all. It’s very well plotted, with the author managing to make all the characters stories fit so well. I loved the claustrophobic small village atmosphere and creepy woods behind the cottage. And even though the book starts off slowly as you read on the tension gradually builds towards the really unexpected but satisfying ending. I won’t say much more so that I don’t spoil it but it was a great read. You really can’t go wrong with Claire Douglas!


Richard osman: The Man who died twice

Elizabeth has received a letter from an old colleague, a man with whom she has a long history. He’s made a big mistake, and he needs her help. His story involves stolen diamonds, a violent mobster, and a very real threat to his life. As bodies start piling up, Elizabeth enlists Joyce, Ibrahim and Ron in the hunt for a ruthless murderer. And if they find the diamonds too? Well, wouldn’t that be a bonus? But this time they are up against an enemy who wouldn’t bat an eyelid at knocking off four septuagenarians. Can The Thursday Murder Club find the killer (and the diamonds) before the killer finds them?

Even though this book could work as a standalone, I highly recommend reading The Thursday Murder Club before reading this, just to get acquainted with the characters. It’s a good cosy thriller with fun characters and a good plot. I must say, this book is way better than the first one, Osman has done a brilliant job filling in the gaps that he missed out in the first book as a murder mystery. Having been introduced to the club members in the first book it was easier to get into this one. Clever plot, fast paced with a touch of humour. I feel that I am really getting invested into these characters now so the third book promises to be even better. One thing I didn’t like is that it becomes a bit too repetitive in the middle and ending was a bit over the top. But overall this was a good cosy thriller!


sarah alderson: The stalker

Newly-weds Liam and Laura are spending their honeymoon in paradise: just the two of them on a remote island off the coast of Scotland. But they soon discover that all is not as it seems, and the island has a tragic past. And they can’t shake the feeling of being watched… When one morning, they wake to find a message scratched into the window, their worst fears are confirmed. They aren’t alone on the island. And this stranger wants them dead.

This book hooked me from the start and I couldn’t put it down. It was so creepy and twisty that I stopped reading it at night because it freaked me out.  Laura and Liam clearly haven’t read many books because they decide to go to a remote Scottish island for their honeymoon. They will be the only people there for a whole week with no way to contact the mainland. Did I mention that it is said the island is cursed? Such a great holiday destination, right? You could think that having only two characters at play during most part of the novel could turn a bit boring, but not at all! The island is incredibly atmospheric and it contributes to create a climate of unease that keeps building throughout the story until the big reveal. And the twist…So unexpected, so clever, a must read!


Alex north: Shadow friend

You knew a teenager like Charlie Crabtree. A dark imagination, a sinister smile–always on the outside of the group. Some part of you suspected he might be capable of doing something awful. Twenty-five years ago, Crabtree did just that, committing a murder so shocking that it’s attracted that strange kind of infamy that only exists on the darkest corners of the internet–and inspired more than one copycat. Paul Adams remembers the case all too well: Crabtree–and his victim–were Paul’s friends. Paul has slowly put his life back together. But now his mother, old and senile, has taken a turn for the worse. Though every inch of him resists, it is time to come home. It’s not long before things start to go wrong. Reading the news, Paul learns another copycat has struck. His mother is distressed, insistent that there’s something in the house. And someone is following him. Which reminds him of the most unsettling thing about that awful day twenty-five years ago. It wasn’t just the murder. It was the fact that afterward, Charlie Crabtree was never seen again…

I was actually very reluctant to write this review mainly because I loved Alex North’s previous book The Whisper Man and I expected the same level of thrills but this book just fell short. The first problem for me was that there were two timelines, the present and 25 years previous. Now this isn’t usually a problem but in this book there were just too many characters. I had to write all of them down so I could follow what was going on. Also the term “lucid dreams” was mentioned a lot, describing dreams and it became hard to tell whether I was reading fact, or a lucid dream that Paul was having now or in the past. It was very, very confusing and the story didn’t flow well for me. I’ve given it 3 stars for the idea because I think it’s very interesting but North’s writing just didn’t work for me.


sarah goodwin: stranded

Eight strangers.
One island.
A secret you’d kill to keep.When eight people arrive on the beautiful but remote Buidseach Island, they are ready for the challenge of a lifetime: to live alone for one year. Eighteen months later, a woman is found in an isolated fishing village. She’s desperate to explain what happened to her: how the group fractured and friends became enemies; how they did what they must to survive until the boat came to collect them; how things turned deadly when the boat didn’t come… But first Maddy must come to terms with the devastating secret that left them stranded, and her own role in the events that saw eight arrive and only three leave.

I think if you are a fan of reality TV shows like Survivor you’ll like this book. I was quite disappointed because I expected something else, maybe more mystery and crime, especially after seeing so many five star reviews, but I didn’t get that. Nothing happens in the first 50% of the book and I really wished there was more than one POV. While I never quite lost interest, Stranded seemed unnecessary long. It felt like we lived through every day of those eighteen months, repetitive task after repetitive task. The long descriptions of all of the survival activities were a bit much for me, as were the extremely unlikable other characters on the island. I was also hoping for a more exciting ending but it was just unbelievable. Overall, just ok.


jodie Chapman: another life

Nick and Anna work the same summer job at their local cinema. Anna is mysterious, beautiful, and from a very different world to Nick. She’s grown up preparing for the end of days, in a tightly-controlled existence where Christmas, getting drunk and sex before marriage are all off-limits. So when Nick comes into her life, Anna falls passionately in love. Their shared world burns with poetry and music, cigarettes and conversation – hints of the people they hope to become. But Anna, on the cusp of adulthood, is afraid to give up everything she’s ever believed in, and everyone she’s ever loved. She walks away, and Nick doesn’t stop her. Years later, a tragedy draws Anna back into Nick’s life

This book is just a rollercoaster of emotion, about life, loss and love. From the first few pages, I knew that this book was special. I am in fact struggling to find the right words to explain how this book made me feel. From the character development, relationships, twists, the plot, this story just completely captivated me and I could not stop thinking about it. The characters are so well written, believable and likeable. I found it refreshing that this love story did not spark between two perfect teens who lead unrealistic lives and never seem to slip up. Instead, Nick and Anna’s story is something a lot of us can relate to.

The book is written primarily through Nick’s perspective, which I found a refreshing change. Personally I’ve found similar books are usually written through a female’s point of view, so I enjoyed the male perspective. The life events that span the twenty plus years of the book make it feel like you’re really going through life with Nick; his memories, his ups and his downs and his life. I loved the inclusion of the never-sent emails from Anna and her poetry, it broke up the chapters nicely and allowed us to also see her perspective, even if only for a short time. This isn’t your typical love story. It is gut wrenching, sad, painful and honest. I cannot recommend this book enough!


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