Blog Tours, Book Reviews

Blog Tour: One Little Secret by Cate Holahan

I received this book for free from Meryl Moss Media in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Blog Tour: One Little Secret by Cate HolahanOne Little Secret by Cate Holahan
Published on July 9, 2019
Genres: Mystery, Thriller, Fiction
Links: Buy on Amazon | Goodreads
Pages: 320
Format: Hardcover

Source: Meryl Moss Media

The glass beach house was supposed to be the getaway that Susan needed. Eager to help her transplanted family set down roots in their new town - and desperate for some kid-free conversation - she invites her new neighbors to join in on a week-long sublet with her and her workaholic husband.

Over the course of the first evening, liquor loosens inhibitions and lips. The three couples begin picking up on the others' marital tensions and work frustrations, as well as revealing their own. But someone says too much. And the next morning one of the women is discovered dead on the private beach.

Town detective Gabby Watkins must figure out who permanently silenced the deceased. As she investigates, she learns that everyone in the glass house was hiding something that could tie them to the murder, and that the biggest secrets of all are often in plain sight for anyone willing to look.

A taut, locked room mystery with an unforgettable cast of characters, One Little Secret promises to keep readers eyes glued to the pages and debating the blinders that we all put on in the service of politeness.

When are vacations to the Hamptons ever as relaxing as one wishes? If you’re reading a thriller and the premise follows a group of people headed to a rental home with uninterrupted views of the beach, you know someone is going to die.

It’s the guiding principle of Cate Holahan’s latest mystery novel, One Little Secret! For starters, I devoured this book in a day. When the central narrative kicks off, it demands you finish it to find out what happened.

However, where One Little Secret excels as a mystery, it doesn’t offer much in the way of thrills. The story plays out pretty much like you anticipate it will. Not that you shouldn’t read it. On the contrary, I still highly recommend the book. Holahan is a skilled writer.

Three couples decide they’re desperately in need of time away from the doldrums of their daily lives. But the moment they get together and the uber-expensive wine is poured, the secrets start to blot out the already darkened night.

Who knew one culdesac crew could have so many skeletons hidden among them?

The night ends in the murder of accomplished attorney, Rachel Klein. Her body is found on a jetty the next morning.

It’s hard to find the characters in this book likable, some far more than others, but to enjoy the mystery, you don’t need to like them, only understand their motives.

Holahan does a great job of constructing a complicated web between each adult. Everyone has a motive for wanting Rachel dead, which makes the ultimate culprit tough to figure out.

One character I had a hard time wrapping my head around was the leading detective on the case. Gabby flips between suspects on a whim. She felt more like a navigational tool to guide readers through the suspects than a fully-realized and capable detective.

Overall, One Little Secret is a suspenseful, pulpy mystery book full of juicy scandals and scintillating secrets. It’s the perfect beach read for the summer and will help you while away hours in the sunshine, where you, hopefully, won’t stumble upon the dead body of your suspicious neighbor.

About Cate Holahan

Cate Holahan is the USA Today Bestselling author of The Widower’s Wife, Lies She Told, and Dark Turns, all published by Crooked Lane Books. In a former life, she was an award-winning journalist that wrote for The Record, The Boston Globe, and BusinessWeek.

She lives in NJ with her husband, two daughters, and food-obsessed dog, and spends a disturbing amount of time highly-caffeinated, mining her own anxieties for material.

She graduated from Princeton University in 2002.

Book Reviews

Book Review: Bethlehem by Karen Kelly

I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review: Bethlehem by Karen KellyBethlehem by Karen Kelly
Published on July 9, 2019
Genres: Historical Fiction, Fiction
Links: Buy on Amazon | Goodreads
Pages: 304
Format: ARC

Source: NetGalley

With the writing chops of Ian McEwan and the story-craft of Lisa Wingate, Karen Kelly weaves a shattering debut about two intertwined families and the secrets that they buried during the gilded, glory days of Bethlehem, PA.

A young woman arrives at the grand ancestral home of her husband’s family, hoping to fortify her cracking marriage. But what she finds is not what she expected: tragedy haunts the hallways, whispering of heartache and a past she never knew existed.

Inspired by the true titans of the steel-boom era, Bethlehem is a story of temptation and regret, a story of secrets and the cost of keeping them, a story of forgiveness. It is the story of two complex women—thrown together in the name of family—who, in coming to understand each other, come finally to understand themselves.

Kelly’s debut novel makes a terrific splash in weaving together the tale of two complex women, both haunted by the tragedies of the past and the unrelenting nature of love in its most daunting form – uncontrollable.

Uprooting his family to the town of Bethlehem, PA and its lustrous history of the steel industry, Joanna discovers the faults in her marriage run deeper than she anticipated.

It is only under the cruel light of the endless blue skies she begins to see the dark truth of not only her own life but the thunderous echoes of the past. Often left to her own devices due to her husband’s busy work schedule, Joanna finds herself taken with the eccentric caretakers of the home.

She floated in Chap’s arms like a feather in a stream, with a strange, transcendental feeling of utter fulfillment, made more bewildering by the fact that she hadn’t realized it had been missing before.

Her new connections lead her to make a curious connection with her mother-in-law, a woman whose story mirrors Joanna’s in an almost uncanny way.

Bethlehem is a vibrant, soapy, and absorbing debut. It’s romantic without being sappy, mysterious without being dour, and realistic with its descriptive passages of aureate architecture and old-money opulence.

What makes Bethlehem such a startling novel and a departure from the tired and true romantic sentiments is its disavowal of a fated “to be.” There is a sadness to love, the idea that being enraptured by one may blind you to the truth.

Karen Kelly makes an exhilarating debut with this historical fiction novel. Stick with it. The beginning can be daunting due to its many character introductions and alternating usage of the timeline.

Rest assured you will be eased into the complicated family relationships between the Collier and Parrish families. The delicate intricacies of their family relationships form the underlying foundation of this story and beg the question of familial history – if one does not understand the past is it doomed to repeat?

Only when Susannah recognizes the imposter, does she impart a moral to the woman who became so inexplicably linked to her in the past and the present.

FOLLOW METWITTER | LETTERBOXD | GOODREADS

About Karen Kelly

Karen Kelly has a BA in English from Vanderbilt University,
and lives in Edina, Minnesota.

Book Reviews

Book Review: The Last List of Miss Judith Kratt by Andrea Bobotis

I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review: The Last List of Miss Judith Kratt by Andrea BobotisThe Last List of Miss Judith Kratt by Andrea Bobotis
Published on July 9, 2019
Genres: Historical Fiction, Fiction
Links: Buy on Amazon | Goodreads
Pages: 320
Format: ARC

Source: NetGalley

Some bury their secrets close to home. Others scatter them to the wind and hope they land somewhere far away.

Judith Kratt inherited all the Kratt family had to offer—the pie safe, the copper clock, the murder no one talks about. She knows it's high time to make an inventory of her household and its valuables, but she finds that cataloging the family belongings—as well as their misfortunes—won't contain her family's secrets, not when her wayward sister suddenly returns, determined to expose skeletons the Kratts had hoped to take to their graves.

Interweaving the present with chilling flashbacks from one fateful evening in 1929, Judith pieces together the influence of her family on their small South Carolina cotton town, learning that the devastating effects of dark family secrets can last a lifetime and beyond.

Told against the backdrop of customary Southern decorum, The Last List of Miss Judith Kratt is the sprawling saga of the Kratt family.

The central narrator, Judith, is unreliable, not always likable. She cares more about the legacy of her family and the value of her heirlooms than she does about her surroundings. Borne into the prosperous Kratt family, Judith grew up under the rigid thumb of the oppressive and injurious Daddy Kratt.

Cotton and blackmail kept the Kratts in business for years until a tragic incident cast a permanent shadow over them. Quincy, Judith’s brother, was murdered.

Rosemarie, Judith’s sister, has always believed Judith was responsible for Quincy’s death. Because of this, she fled the suffocating small-town of Bound, never to darken Judith’s doorstep again.

Since then, Judith hasn’t left her home. She’s been in a shut-in for 65 years with only Olva, a family friend with secrets of her own, to keep her company.

The story is told with two alternating narratives, one from when Judith was only 15 and one in present-day Bound where Judith is 75. The segments of the novel set in the past follow the events leading up to Quincy’s death.

Andrea Bobotis is a competent writer. The world of Bound is fleshed out through lustrous descriptive passages. You can feel the swelter of Southern heat, feel the blanket of dust coating the untouched miscellaneous objects in the old Kraft house and see the splinters of the sun’s rays filtering through the windows.

This story less about the mystery and more about establishing the arcs of its central characters. It also focuses heavily on how the past can inform the present.

Because The Last List of Miss Judith Kratt is more intrinsically motivated, the ending feels somewhat anticlimactic. Everything de-escalates quickly, and the core conflicts in the book wrap up a little too neat.

But that doesn’t make this novel any less of a compelling read. Despite feeling underwhelmed by the final chapters, I felt wholly gratified by the understanding of Judith’s inventory. What makes her family history worth preserving?

One has to learn how to hang on, and also when to let go.

FOLLOW METWITTER | LETTERBOXD | GOODREADS

About Andrea Bobotis

A native of South Carolina, Andrea holds a Ph.D. in English literature from the University of Virginia. She lives with her family in Denver, Colorado, where she teaches creative writing to youth at Lighthouse Writers Workshop. She also teaches yoga and is a national parks geek.

Book Reviews

Book Review: The Divorce by Victoria Jenkins

I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review: The Divorce by Victoria JenkinsThe Divorce by Victoria Jenkins
Published on July 4, 2019
Genres: Thriller, Fiction
Links: Buy on Amazon | Goodreads
Pages: 224
Format: ARC

Source: NetGalley

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.

Book Reviews

Book Review: Whisper Network by Chandler Baker

I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review: Whisper Network by Chandler BakerWhisper Network by Chandler Baker
Published on July 2, 2019
Genres: Thriller, Mystery, Fiction
Links: Buy on Amazon | Goodreads
Pages: 320
Format: ARC

Source: NetGalley

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.

FOLLOW METWITTER | LETTERBOXD | GOODREADS

Book Reviews

Book Review: Girls Like Us by Cristina Alger

I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review: Girls Like Us by Cristina AlgerGirls Like Us by Cristina Alger
Published on July 2, 2019
Genres: Mystery, Crime, Thriller, Fiction
Links: Buy on Amazon | Goodreads
Pages: 384
Format: ARC

Source: NetGalley

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.

FOLLOW METWITTER | LETTERBOXD | GOODREADS

Book Reviews

Book Review: The Child Finder by Rene Denfeld

Book Review: The Child Finder by Rene DenfeldThe Child Finder (Naomi Cottle, #1) by Rene Denfeld
Series: Naomi Cottle #1
Published on September 5, 2017
Genres: Thriller, Mystery, Fiction
Links: Buy on Amazon | Goodreads
Pages: 274
Format: Hardcover

Source: Barnes and Noble

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!

Book Reviews

Book Review: Lock Every Door by Riley Sager

I received this book for free from Dutton Publicity in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review: Lock Every Door by Riley SagerLock Every Door by Riley Sager
Published on July 2, 2019
Genres: Thriller, Mystery, Fiction
Links: Buy on Amazon | Goodreads
Pages: 384
Format: ARC

Source: Dutton Publicity

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.

Continue reading my full review at 1428 Elm.

Book Mail

Book Mail: Mother Knows Best

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.

Book Reviews

Book Review: The Doctor by Lisa Stone

I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review: The Doctor by Lisa StoneThe Doctor by Lisa Stone
Published on June 24, 2019
Genres: Thriller, Fiction
Links: Buy on Amazon | Goodreads
Pages: 390
Format: ARC

Source: NetGalley

When Emily and Ben move in next door to Dr Burman and his wife Anita, they are keen to get to know their new neighbours. Outgoing and sociable, Emily tries to befriend the doctor’s wife, but Anita is strangely subdued, barely leaving the house, and terrified of answering the phone.

When Emily goes missing a few weeks later, Ben is plunged into a panic. His wife has left him a note, but can she really have abandoned him for another man? Or has Emily’s curiosity about the couple next door led her straight into danger?

A gripping, sinister thriller with a twist you won’t see coming from the international bestseller Lisa Stone.

I’ll never trust a doctor again. Just kidding. Sort of. But seriously, The Doctor did not turn out to be the book I expected it to be. I was expecting a standard domestic thriller of some kind, but it evolved into something far darker and more convoluted than that.

I commend Lisa Stone for coming up with such a unique premise for a thriller. Though I have to wonder why the synopsis talked about “Emily going missing” when that doesn’t kick in until one of the later acts of the book, it’s a spoiler-y note to stick right in the book’s summary. Primarily because it doesn’t become an incentive or plot motivator until close to half-way through the story.

Speaking of, the third act of this book dragged on way too long for my liking. I don’t want to get into spoiler territory, but in regards to Emily’s kidnapping, the whole circus surrounding finding out what happened to her was repetitive and often involved characters being stupid for the sole purpose of extending the story.

The other aspect of this book I wasn’t too fond of was the primary antagonist, Amit. He was vile and misogynistic to the point of excess. His motivations didn’t feel strong enough because of his hatred for his wife. The Doctor isn’t my book and not my story to tell, but, I almost feel as if it would have been more interesting to make him a caring, increasingly desperate, man who spirals into madness because of his desire to save his wife.

Should you read The Doctor?

I think it depends on what you’re looking for in a thriller! If you want something with a refreshingly unique story, something you haven’t seen done a million times, then absolutely. The Doctor is riveting in its oddity and strangeness, and Stone is adept at weaving suspense into her storytelling.

It reminded me of an old-school R.L. Stine novel. I used to read them ALL the time as a kid and this book gave me some similar vibes. I mean that in a complimentary way! It does feel a little Frankenstein-y and deals with body horror. I liked that element. It should be classified as horror in addition to a thriller, in my opinion.

Once the story gets going, it’s hard to put the book down out of sheer desire to want to know how Amit, Alisha, and Emily’s journey will all play out. But if you’re expecting a more conventional thriller, then you might find yourself dissatisfied with the finished product.