The Road Trip didn’t seem to arrive with the fanfare of its predecessors but is still an enjoyable read. It unfolds in in two timelines. The present (which involves the very long and fraught road trip) and a period of a year or two in the recent past.
I first came across Canadian author Chevy Stevens via her debut novel, Still Missing, which I adored.
I’ve read most of her subsequent books and she writes consistently complex thrillers, often centring around unhealthy relationships and splintered families, and featuring power imbalances between genders.
The Whispers by Heidi Perks is an intriguing read. It’s one of those books featuring a narrator who may – or may not – be reliable. On one hand they appear entirely normal and only worried about a missing friend, but on the other their behaviour seems excessive. Bordering on obsessive and increasingly worrying.
But then it seems that others are keeping secrets so we’re not entirely sure who to trust.
I wasn’t sure what to expect from The Ocean in Winter by Elizabeth de Veer. I’d requested it from an online review platform thinking perhaps it was a mystery or thriller (ie. my reading bread & butter). It’s not, but that was fine.
de Veer cleverly plots this out in almost a circular way. We start near the end before moving back in time. The book unfolds from three sisters’ points of view. The opening scene tells us a little of the history before we reach those events, but holds back on details to sustain the intrigue.
The most intriguing thing about this book is that it opens with the death of Erin’s husband. (And I hadn’t read the blurb so that came as a surprise to me but it IS in the blurb so this isn’t a spoiler.) And then we leap forward in time and she’s on trial for murdering her husband months AFTER he (very obviously) suicided.
The options are obvious aren’t they? He faked his death for some reason… and we’re given plenty. Or Erin moves on and married someone else quickly in the interim. Jo Spain sets The Perfect Lie up really well so I didn’t expect the direction this book took. I mean, I’d considered the baddie could be the baddie but discounted it because, well… Spain convinced me otherwise.
Amy Suiter Clarke, author of Girl, 11 was born in America, studied in England but now lives in Melbourne. And everyone knows how much we Aussies like to adopt people born elsewhere as our own.
Suiter Clarke’s debut novel centres around the popular world of true crime podcasting. And like others who have offered similar books Suiter Clarke manages to balance past crimes – revealed via podcast interviews and research – with the events of the present. Indeed here it’s done particularly well as there’s a lag in revealing the podcast episodes that have aired when we first meet our characters. They’re referenced so there’s some foreshadowing of what’s to come but it’s timed perfectly to offer readers only a little insight into the fate that’s about to befall our characters.
Her Last Holiday by CL Taylor reminded me a little of Liane Moriarty’s Nine Perfect Strangers, although this is more of a thriller. It does however feature a wellness retreat run by an interesting duo, and plays host to some quirky guests.
This is the third book I’ve read by Cally (CL) Taylor and yet another enjoyable read with a couple of surprise twists at the end.
What You Never Knew by Jessica Hamilton starts with something quite devastating. Thankfully we’re prepared because the backcover blurb clearly tells us we’re going to be meeting someone who dies, nevertheless I felt sad we lost May before getting to know her.
Sometimes books featuring narrators who have died can be a little morbid or overly wistful, Hamilton however manages to insert (the ghost or spirit of) May into her sister’s life in quite an unobtrusive way.
Other People’s Houses by by Kelli Hawkins is an intriguing and bittersweet tale of loss, grief and obsession. It could be akin to breakdown porn as readers get a front-row seat to the disintegration of someone’s mental health. However Hawkins handles lead character Kate with respect and sensitivity. This book is being compared to Paula Hawkins’ The Girl on the Train and I suspect it’s due to the similarities between Kate and TGOTT’s Rachel. Not only are both heavy drinkers, but they indulge in risky and obsessive behaviour… even though they know better. Both authors however, treat their leads sympathetically.