Whisper Network is an undeniably important read. Built as a thriller, this book explores the daunting and intimidating task that lies ahead for women who have experienced any form of harassment by a man much higher up the career ladder than they are. Continue reading review.
Lock Every Door by Riley Sager
Easily his best book of the three he’s released thus far, Lock Every Door is Rosemary’s Baby for the modern audience. It embraces the same Gothic spirit and sense of dread. I literally could not put this book down if I tried. It demands your attention. Continue reading review.
Girls Like Us by Cristina Alger
Girls Like Us veers into FBI procedural territory. It is Alger’s richly descriptive prose and intricate plotting that elevates this novel to a compelling crime thriller. There is no confirmation that this novel is anything but a standalone; however, in my opinion, it is an excellent foundation story to set up a series, one I would fully support. Continue reading review.
When Lydia and Josh Green walk into Karen’s office one rainy February morning, Karen sees a couple under stress, almost at breaking point. But working with struggling couples, finding out more about their problems, helping to save their marriages, is what Karen does.
But as Karen spends more time with Lydia and Josh, her sense of unease grows. Lydia is something more than just a woman whose marriage is in trouble. She seems frightened for her safety. Josh is angry, grief-stricken and seems to be hiding a dark secret.
And soon Karen herself is afraid – there is something about the behaviour of this couple that recalls traumatic incidents from her own past. There is something there that may be the key to saving them, if Karen can only unlock it in time.
It’s strange to me that so many publicity teams try to compare psychological thrillers to the heavyweights like Gone Girl. Mainly because most of the time, there are no similarities beyond the genre. Not every thriller is deserving of this comparison.
The Divorce is unique due to its narrative structure. Each chapter represents a different perspective of one of the three characters involved in marriage counseling.
The main character, Karen, is the counselor. The other two, Lydia and Josh Green, are the participants.
During each session, Karen gains further insight into the complicated relationship between the Greens. She suspects Josh may be hiding abusive tendencies given his rage issues and Lydia’s meek, fearful manner.
We are privy to how all three characters think and feel as the story bounces around each one, chapter by chapter. The idea of a psychological thriller playing out through various therapy sessions was an appealing idea to me. It reminds me of an old HBO show called In Treatment with a similar concept.
But The Divorce never delivers the same tension as In Treatment managed to. It is boring, tedious, and challenging to get through. The first half of the book goes in circles with every chapter retreading the same conversations and arguments again and again.
For a book that isn’t long, it drags. I wish the chapters had been shorter and more to the point. Then, by the time you get to the ending and the twist, it becomes ludicrous compared to the plodding story prefacing it. I predicted it early on, and it even intrigued me. Unfortunately, I didn’t enjoy the way it panned out.
Should you read The Divorce?
I suggest you watch In Treatment instead. It’s full of more complex characters and intricate development. The Divorce is well-written, Jenkins has a talent for figurative and descriptive language.
I truly wanted to enjoy this book. For the first few chapters, I did. Then it became clear I would be in for much of the same for an extended period, and my interest slowly dwindled with every page.
Four women learn their boss (a man who’s always been surrounded by rumors about how he treats women) is next in line to be CEO—what will happen when they decide enough is enough?
Sloane, Ardie, Grace, and Rosalita are four women who have worked at Truviv, Inc., for years. The sudden death of Truviv's CEO means their boss, Ames, will likely take over the entire company. Ames is a complicated man, a man they’ve all known for a long time, a man who’s always been surrounded by...whispers. Whispers that have always been ignored by those in charge. But the world has changed, and the women are watching Ames’s latest promotion differently. This time, they’ve decided enough is enough.
Sloane and her colleagues set in motion a catastrophic shift within every floor and department of the Truviv offices. All four women’s lives—as women, colleagues, mothers, wives, friends, even adversaries—will change dramatically as a result.
Whisper Network is an undeniably important read. Built as a thriller, this book explores the daunting and intimidating task that lies ahead for women who have experienced any form of harassment by a man much higher up the career ladder than they are.
What do you do? Do you grin and bear it? Do you risk your job to file a complaint that could be weaponized against you? Do you rage? Do you scream? Do you yell?
First, you whisper. You warn the other women in your life. We send out secret signals to each other, our modus operandi, our method of protecting ourselves and each other.
That is the basis of Whisper Network. A realistic and compelling story about four women who find themselves victimized by the same man. But when an anonymous list is circulated detailing all the men in the Dallas area who are known for their catcalls, their groping, and at their very worst, assault, a light shines from above.
For once these women can let their voices be heard. They can offer protection, they can warn and prevent, while knowing their jobs are safe.
Then everything they’ve built is threatened when their CEO jumps off the roof and kills himself, setting off a chain reaction of events that all lead right to the heart of a courtroom.
Whisper Network is a damn addicting read. Told by alternating point-of-view chapters mixed with flash-forwards to court depositions, interviews, comment threads, and more, Baker does an excellent job of weaving a compelling narrative, albeit one that runs a little longer than it needs to.
The brilliance of this story is that none of these women are the “perfect victim.” I can’t tell you how happy I was to realize that. In fact, some of the main characters are downright unlikable, which is brilliant.
Rude women get raped. Women who have affairs can still be harassed by the men they once slept with. There is no such thing as a “perfect victim,” which feels like a robust underlying point of the Whisper Network.
Every woman who experiences assault or harassment in this book is hugely different. Some of them have even done horrible things. Society believes you can judge a woman’s believability and worth by her past decisions. But rape is rape. Assault is assault. It doesn’t matter what you did before that moment, all that matters is that moment.
Should you read Whisper Network?
Yes, yes, 1,000 times, yes! The only issue I had with this book is some of the feministic notions felt a little shallow to me (the frequent mentions of Tina Fey and giving up blowjobs in the name of feminism? okay.), but beyond that, this is a timely and essential read. It’s also just a genuinely good book and exceedingly well-written.
Whisper Network is a little like Big Little Lies for the legal crowd, and it shouldn’t be missed. Chandler Baker has become a must-read author for me after this novel.
Derek Mears talks to 1428 Elm about how amazing it was to work with talented artists like James Wan, Crystal Reed, and more on season one of Swamp Thing.
Derek Mears has played his fair share of monsters over the years. From the classic Predator in the 2010 film, Predators, to Jason Voorhees himself in the 2009 Friday the 13thremake, Mears knows his way around special effects and prosthetics. His latest project is one of his most daunting, yet rewarding, projects as he takes on the iconic mantle of DC hero, Alec Holland, also known as Swamp Thing.
Mears shares the title role with Andy Bean, who portrays the human side of Alec, while Mears dons an elaborate (but practical) suit to play the guardian of the green. We had the opportunity to chat with Derek Mears about his work on season one of the DC Universe show, Swamp Thing. He tells us about his work with the cast, his process for getting into character, his hopes for the series’ future and much more!
1428 Elm: What were your initial thoughts when you first read the script for Swamp Thing?
Derek Mears: I get to be part of something super cool. When the writers and showrunners came up with this idea for Swamp Thing my jaw just dropped. I was so excited. It’s magic. I was eager to jump into it as soon as possible.
I’m Lucy, and I have a secret.I have a beautiful home, that I’m desperate to escape. But that’s not my secret.I tell my friends I’ve never wanted children, when I always have. But that’s not my secret. My husband is a celebrated surgeon, who tries to control me. But that’s not my secret.
Adele knows. Once upon a time, I knew everything about her and she knew everything about me. Best friends forever. But now our secret is beginning to surface. I can trust her more than anyone. We made a pact. And she’s never do anything to hurt me. Would she?
This absolutely gripping psychological thriller will have you forgetting everything until the last shocking twist. Fans of Behind Closed Doors, Friend Request, and The Girl on the Train will be hooked.
If you liked Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris, then you will already know what to expect from this novel. It’s almost identical in plot and how it plays out.
The most significant difference is the introduction of Adele Watts, former best friend of our main character, Lucy. Their friendship was an unlikely one. Lucy has never known anything but being wealthy and privileged, while Adele is now an ex-con who has lived in or near poverty her entire life.
When we meet Lucy, she is nearing the breaking point of her marriage with a volatile, abusive, cardiologist husband, Marcus. Once she decides to get out of her situation, at any cost, Lucy reaches out to the one person she believes can help her, Adele.
The novel is called The Friendship Pact, and the synopsis teases the secret kept between Adele and Lucy as a pivotal plot in the book. The mystery does come into play, we learn about it through a now-and-then flashback format, but as far as its plot significance, it’s minimal.
The Friendship Pact is split into three parts. The first part is gripping, although I had issues with the portrayal of abuse, in the same way, I did with Behind Closed Doors, but it is more believable and less exploitative and gleefully disturbing in this book.
Once the story reaches its second and third act, all the urgency has seeped out. I found the second half of the book harder to get through, mainly because poor Lucy is passed from one abusive man to another (a mild spoiler, it’s obvious). The plot becomes increasingly predictable too. You may figure it out before you reach the half-way mark, I did. Only one twist shocked me, and it ended the first part of the book.
Another pet peeve I have with thrillers is the idea that everyone in the protagonists’ world is oblivious, stupid, or evil. I understand these things can happen in real life, but some of the side characters’ reactions didn’t seem realistic. And speaking of side characters, there were several who served no real purpose.
Should you read The Friendship Pact?
It’s not a bad thriller, it is engaging, and the author knows how to write in a gripping way. But after blowing through the first part of the novel in eagerness to find out what happened, you may find yourself as deflated as I did when the rest of the story takes a sharp decline into dullness.
From the celebrated and bestselling author of The Banker’s Wife, worlds collide when an FBI agent investigates a string of grisly murders on Long Island that raises the impossible question: What happens when the primary suspect is your father?
FBI Agent Nell Flynn hasn’t been home in twelve years. Nell and her father, Homicide Detective Martin Flynn, have never had much of a relationship. And Suffolk County will always be awash in memories of her mother, Marisol, who was brutally murdered when Nell was just seven.
When Martin Flynn dies in a motorcycle accident, Nell returns to the house she grew up in so that she can spread her father’s ashes and close his estate. At the behest of her father’s partner, Detective Lee Davis, Nell becomes involved in an investigation into the murders of two young Hispanic women in Suffolk County.
The further Nell digs, the more likely it seems to her that her father should be the prime suspect–and that his friends on the police force are covering his tracks. Plagued by doubts about her mother’s murder–and her own role in exonerating her father in that case–Nell can’t help but ask questions about who killed Ria Ruiz and Ariana Marques and why. But she may not like the answers she finds–not just about those she loves, but about herself.
Martin Flynn dies during a late-night motorcycle accident while traversing the dark roads of Suffolk County. To put his affairs in order, his daughter, Nell Flynn, a behavioral analyst from the FBI, returns to her old stomping grounds.
Nell’s task is meant to be a simple one. Disperse her father’s ashes, attend to his will, and decide what to do with his house. Then the body of a young woman is found in an affluent, and Nell is invited to be a consultant on the case by her father’s old partner at the SCPD, Det. Lee Davis.
Girls Like Us veers into FBI procedural territory. It is Alger’s richly descriptive prose and intricate plotting that elevates this novel to a compelling crime thriller.
There is no confirmation that this novel is anything but a standalone; however, in my opinion, it is an excellent foundation story to set up a series, one I would fully support.
Flynn is one of the better-developed characters in the novel. She is sharp, grounded, confident (sometimes to the point of recklessness), and she carries the trademark darkness all the best fictional detectives have. Girls Like Us did what it set out to do in wrapping up its central plot, but it doesn’t quite wrap Nell’s story up.
I don’t mean to say the ending isn’t suitable to the book, it contains a poetic and fitting epilogue, but I did feel like Nell’s narrative arc was left somewhat unresolved.
Regardless of whether or not this was a deliberate action, I hope Alger considers revisiting Nell’s story. She has proven herself as a talented crime writer, a task not easy to accomplish. She has also gifted us with a realistic female detective. It’d be a shame if this outing served as her last.
Should you read Girls Like Us?
I haven’t read Alger’s other novel, The Banker’s Wife (I bought it a while ago, and it sits high on my TBR list), so I can’t compare it to that novel. But I enjoyed Girls Like Us quite a bit. I certainly intend to read The Banker’s Wife when I get the chance.
Girls Like Us hides conspiracy and intrigue under the guise of a typical killing spree. There are many mysteries to be solved across the novel’s 300-something page count, Alger tends to each like a flower in bloom, cultivating each phrase with careful, affectional precision.
Three years ago, Madison Culver disappeared when her family was choosing a Christmas tree in Oregon’s Skookum National Forest. She would be eight years old now—if she has survived. Desperate to find their beloved daughter, certain someone took her, the Culvers turn to Naomi, a private investigator with an uncanny talent for locating the lost and missing. Known to the police and a select group of parents as The Child Finder, Naomi is their last hope.
Naomi’s methodical search takes her deep into the icy, mysterious forest in the Pacific Northwest, and into her own fragmented past. She understands children like Madison because once upon a time, she was a lost girl too.
As Naomi relentlessly pursues and slowly uncovers the truth behind Madison’s disappearance, shards of a dark dream pierce the defenses that have protected her, reminding her of a terrible loss she feels but cannot remember. If she finds Madison, will Naomi ultimately unlock the secrets of her own life?
Plenty of people adored this book. I, unfortunately, was not one of them.
The Child Finder follows Naomi, a woman who is plagued by her past trauma as a child who had once gone missing. Now she attempts to make up for the pain she suffered by seeking out the lost children of the world.
She is called to a town in Oregon, a place baked in her bleak history, to aid a pair of desperate parents anxious for their daughter to come home. The police have given up. The media has moved on. Naomi is their only hope.
Naomi’s characterization is one of the most significant issues I had with The Child Finder. To put it succinctly, she doesn’t have any. We know she only trusts three people (repeated ad nauseum). She has a semi-incestual love interest in her foster brother. She cares only about her career in finding lost children, which is fine if every paragraph wasn’t layered with manufactured subtext about the meaning of life and weighted significance of even the briefest encounters.
To put it bluntly, this was a dull read for me. The writing is poetic, I can see why people were drawn to it. Many passages were lyrical and beautiful to read. But beyond the beauty, I found it difficult to grasp any depth, or if there was any, it felt forced upon the reader.
I found the writing style leaned towards sentimentality for sentiment’s sake. It was often cringe-worthy with the amount of sap and romanticized moments that hardly needed it.
Mainly, large portions of the story felt overwritten, and I felt my eyes glazing over as the subplots twisted onwards, and the central mystery fell to the wayside.
The character perspective frequently switches, making it difficult to follow where you are in the story at times because of the style and timeline.
Should you read The Child Finder?
My dislike of the book appears to be in the minority. You might be able to find the magical spark of The Child Finder that I missed. By my own experience with this book, I wouldn’t suggest it, but other people would with intensity!
No visitors. No nights spent away from the apartment. No disturbing the other residents, all of whom are rich or famous or both. These are the only rules for Jules Larsen's new job as an apartment sitter at the Bartholomew, one of Manhattan's most high-profile and mysterious buildings. Recently heartbroken and just plain broke, Jules is taken in by the splendor of her surroundings and accepts the terms, ready to leave her past life behind.
As she gets to know the residents and staff of the Bartholomew, Jules finds herself drawn to fellow apartment sitter Ingrid, who comfortingly, disturbingly reminds her of the sister she lost eight years ago. When Ingrid confides that the Bartholomew is not what it seems and the dark history hidden beneath its gleaming facade is starting to frighten her, Jules brushes it off as a harmless ghost story . . . until the next day, when Ingrid disappears.
Searching for the truth about Ingrid's disappearance, Jules digs deeper into the Bartholomew's dark past and into the secrets kept within its walls. Her discovery that Ingrid is not the first apartment sitter to go missing at the Bartholomew pits Jules against the clock as she races to unmask a killer, expose the building's hidden past, and escape the Bartholomew before her temporary status becomes permanent.
Riley Sager returns to dominate the month of July with his best book yet. Lock Every Door is a sinister read that demands to be devoured.
When I picked up Riley Sager’s first book, Final Girls, a few years ago, I was captivated by the newest author to break into the thriller genre. Then I read The Last Time I Lied and realized Sager was quickly becoming a favorite. With the release of Lock Every Door, Sager has cemented his status as an iconic thriller author.
Easily his best book of the three he’s released thus far, Lock Every Door is Rosemary’s Baby for the modern audience. It embraces the same Gothic spirit and sense of dread. I literally could not put this book down if I tried. It demands your attention.
Thank you to Meryl Moss Media for sending me an early copy of Mother Knows Best! I’ll be joining the blog tour for Peikoff’s novel this September so keep an eye out! It’s the crazy story of three people conspiring together to do the unthinkable – create the perfect genetic child from THREE different parents.