I received a copy of this book from SilverWood Books in return for an honest review.
Based on a true crime, although ‘The Birthday House’. is a fictional interpretation of the events before, during and after the tragedy. The characters too are fictional, although the author did know the young girl who was murdered.
This is a short story, but it has depth and impact, more so because this is based upon a real, historical crime. Told from the viewpoints of the people involved it paints a picture, which is both poignant and inevitable. The housekeeper, who made the discovery, and its aftereffects on her. The wife, the child, the friend, the child’s best friend, the husband, who committed such a grievous atrocity, and the grandmother left only with her memories and regrets.
The story reads well, drawing you into the 1950s Dartmouth community. There is something fatalistic about it, so many opportunities to circumvent the eventual tragedy, but still, it happened. A well-written thought-provoking story,
I started writing in a red shiny exercise book
when I was seven years old. But in that time and place it was an ‘invalid’
activity, was overlooked, but never went away. It was many years before I felt
able to call myself ‘writer’.
But there came a day when the phrase ‘I am a
writer’ no longer sounded pretentious, but legitimate, and even necessary. Was
it because I had a writing room instead of the corner of a landing? Or because
I spent more time writing? Or because I’d got better at it? Or because I get
miserable and bad-tempered if I don’t write? Probably a combination of all of
Writing is my third career. The first was as a social worker with children and families, a job I loved but left because I could no longer cope with the system.
This led to a freelance career as an
independent management consultant, helping people to handle emotions in the
work context. I worked in the IT industry, in companies large and small, as
well as public organisations. Later I became involved in research projects
concerned with the multi-disciplinary approach to social problems such as child
abuse. So, in a sense, I had come full-circle.
All these experiences feed into the process of
writing fiction, while my non-fiction book ‘The Wise Woman Within’ resulted indirectly from the consultancy
work and my subsequent PhD thesis,‘Bridging Incommensurable
Paradigms’, which is available from the School of Management at the
University of Bath.
I live in Devon and visit Cornwall frequently
and these land and seascapes are powerful influences which demand a presence in
Writers’ groups and workshops are a further
invaluable source of inspiration and support and I attend various groups
locally and sign up for creative courses in stunning locations whenever I can.
I try doing writing practice at home but there is no substitute for the focus
and discipline achieved among others in a group.
I have written some short stories and recently signed up for a short story writing-course to explore this genre in more depth.
I live with my husband in South Devon and
enjoy being involved in a lively local community.
is not the man everyone believes him to be. And Emelia is not the woman he
wants her to be.
was a whirlwind romance, Anthony was the doting boyfriend, the charismatic and
successful career man who swept her off her feet. But now Emelia is trapped in
a marriage of dark secrets and obsession. She is no more than something Anthony
wants to ‘fix’, one of his pet projects.
has no escape from the life that Anthony insists on controlling, so she shares
her story through the only means she can – her blog. Yet Anthony can never find
out. Forced to hide behind a false name, Emelia knows the only way that Anthony
will allow her to leave him, is death.
Trapped with a man she knows is trying to kill her, Emelia is determined that someone will hear her story and Anthony will meet his ends. That everyone will discover the truth.
I received a copy of this book from the Aria via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
A story of two halves as many psychological thrillers are.
The story begins with a blog post, Emelia has a life-limiting condition and wondered if she would have the chance of a normal marriage. Anthony was more than she thought possible until he wasn’t. Once married, things change and the doting man becomes increasingly controlling. Limiting her life, even more than her physical state does.
This is a domestic thriller, claustrophobic and dark, and you wonder if she has it in her to escape. Then there’s a twist that turns this into a noir psychological thriller, where you doubt what you read, and don’t know who to believe, and wonder if anything that came before is ‘The Truth’?
The ending has another twist and leaves ‘normal’ minds with more questions. Based on a collection of real events, this is chilling, claustrophobic and clever, something different.
Guest Post – Naomi Joy – The Truth –Notes on Inspiration
If you ask authors where they get their inspiration, you’ll receive a range of answers. It might be an amazing location that’s captured their imagination – I think of Mandy Baggot’s Greek settings or Pat Black’s dark forests. They could have picked up on trends in our society – how more and more people are meeting one another online (Click, L.Smyth). It could have been a big change in their own lives – a new baby, a new job, a new man on the train (The Note, Z.Folbigg) – that sparked their creative fuse. I read about an author whose grandparent had lived through the San Francisco Earthquake of 1906 and written a diary about the day – inspiration indeed. It could be other worlds, imagined worlds, or a hypothetical question they’re keen to explore. But for me, my interest is usually piqued by a real-life person, most often a fascinating female case-study who’s done something terrible. I love to start from that point and imagine what’s come before: how did this evil emerge? What made this person who they are? Why?
Before I started writing The Truth, I was inspired by a collection of real people who’ve all committed the same sociopathic crime and, though I can’t go into detail about the specifics, as soon as I heard about them I couldn’t do anything else until I’d written a version of their stories myself.
The Liars, inspiration came from a number of toxic women I’d worked with, but, more interesting than their devious and despicable behaviour, was what made them that way. I read about how modern office culture favours competition and actively encourages employees to cut-down their competitors rather than collaborate, and thus the office-culture at the heart of the story was born.
As I sit down to work on my third novel for Aria Fiction, I will follow the same process, so, if you hear about any deranged and dastardly women: send them my way!
Naomi Joy is the pen name of a young PR professional who was formerly an account director at prestigious Storm Communications. Writing from experience, she draws the reader in the darker side of the uptown and glamorous, presenting realism that is life or death, unreliable and thrilling to page-turn.
My ears prick, and I tune into the crescendo of footsteps, the turn of a lock, the twist of a doorknob. I push my laptop under the bed, determined to keep my blog a secret. It’s not that I don’t trust him, I just… It thuds as it hits the damask rug beneath and I recoil my arm quickly, pulling the covers back over my body and up around my neck to make it looks as though I’ve been sleeping rather than typing, but this sudden movement throws fistfuls of confetti-dust into the splinters of light in the room and I worry he’ll suspect that I’ve been up to something.
in,’ I reply.
dressing gown fans as the door opens, the gust catching the silk sleeve and
part of the body, transforming it, for a second, from inanimate object to
darling. How are you feeling?’
He peers at me through full-moon black-rimmed spectacles, the paper-thin skin beneath his eyes tinged purple – not enough sleep – his long fingers curled around the door handle. His carefully groomed moustache quivers above his top lip flicked up at the ends. He’s excited about something.
better?’ he asks.
I croak from my resting place. ‘I still feel like death.’
walks towards me, eyebrows crooked, wedding ring flashing as he passes through
the bursts of sunlight. He dabs the sweat slathering my brow and folds back the
duvet gently, eager to help, but the movement releases the smell of my own
stench into the otherwise beautiful room. His lips pucker in response. He tries
not to gag.
want to take you somewhere today,’ he says, bitter coffee on his breath.
my head fully towards him and we lock eyes.
I ask too quickly, too eagerly, droplets pooling anew in the curve of my lower
excavation. I thought it might make you feel better.’
smile, elated for a moment, then look away, my eyes on the opposite wall. There
are a couple of problems with this suggestion. The first: he’s promised this
before. I must not get my hopes up. The second: I am sick, deathly unwell, and,
though I have the will to leave, I’m not sure there’s any possible way that I
can. My stomach twists and jealousy rumbles in its pit. He is well. He can go
wherever he likes. He can work and, better still, he loves his job. Anthony’s a
famous archaeologist and, although that might sound oxymoronic, to those in the
industry he’s a rock star. Literally.
love to,’ I answer.
Despite my reservations, I am hopeful that I will go outside today. In fact, it is imperative that I do; Anthony is nothing but kind and patient with me and yet my brain is turning me against him, doubting his intentions. If I could just find the strength to ignore the searing pain in my abdomen, the tightness in my chest, the raging sweats, the all-consuming itch of my skin, the fire beneath, things would start to improve, we’d get back to who we were before. I know we would. My heart thumps, already exhausted, as I heave my reluctant body up to a seated position and swing my feet to the floor. I balance on the edge of the mattress, letting the black spots from my headrush pass, and, just as I’m about to stand, my toes hit the edge of my laptop hidden beneath the bed, making me jump. I glance behind me, hoping he won’t have noticed.
then,’ he says softly, taking my hand. ‘Time for your medicine.’
pills land in my palm – Antriptophene – and for once I stutter at what he’s given
me: I don’t recognise this brand and I’m immediately suspicious of it. I look
at the long drink of lukewarm water left on the bedside table overnight, coated
now with a thin film of dust. Something doesn’t feel right.
doctor’s recommended them, they’re supposed to be excellent.’
at the pills again, at the blocky red writing atop bright orange casing and
make a decision.
not taking these.’
face breaks with lines, lips curling at my refusal, shocked that I would even
question what he’s giving me. Taken aback, he stalls, then relents, folding
them into his hand and leaving the room without another word, his tall frame
pausing momentarily in the light of the doorway.
I received a copy of this book from HQ Stories in return for an honest review.
‘Lies, Lies, Lies’, deals with serious contemporary issues, has characters who are hard to empathise with, and yet, it is a compulsive read.
It starts with a lie, and as it infolds the web of lies intensifies. Simon is an alcoholic, he tells so many lies to hide the extent of his addiction. When he stumbles upon an uncomfortable secret, alcohol is his solace, but his lies are less believable and Daisy. his usually forgiving wife is losing patience. Daisy protects her daughter at all costs., increasingly she feels it’s Simon she needs to protect her from. His descent into alcoholism is accelerating, and the changes of keeping a secret and their family intact recede.
The first part of the book focuses on Simon’s alcoholism, how it affects him, Daisy and Millie their six-year-old daughter. For me this part of the story is hard going, it is authentic and believable, but a little long. The second part of the story is better. Faster paced, the hint that everything isn’t quite how it seems. The final part is suspenseful and shocking. The lies fall apart and the truth is finally revealed. The plot twists, are realistic, even though I guessed some, others are not revealed until the very end.
This book is primarily a family drama, an exploration of how addiction can damage family life. Sacrifice, secrets nd suspense all feature in this story, and the menace increases as the final chapters.reveal the truth.
This believable, claustrophobic story for fans of family drama and domestic thrillers.
I received a copy of this book from Penguin Random House- Cornerstone- Century via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
Complex, damaged characters, a terrible tragedy, an innocent survivor, and a house full of secrets. Told from three points of view, the dark and suspenseful family drama is painstakingly revealed, through the eyes of the people who were there.
The relentless plot conceals as much as it reveals, evil is an undercurrent of this story, but it’s also about weakness, survival and emotional damage.
The contemporary, urban setting gives the plot its authenticity. In the current culture of child abuse scandals, the terrible events explored, and their outcome, seem credible and are all the more chilling because of this.
The story has a transparency that I didn’t expect. You can unpick what happened through the three narratives, and I did manage to unravel most of it, but you are never sure if the protagonists are reliable. They are emotionally damaged children, victims of abusive treatment.
The characters are well written, you do empathise with them, and dislike those who should have been taking care of them.
‘The Family Upstairs’ is a noir family drama, with a realistic contemporary setting and layers of suspense and emotional angst, that make you believe that it could really happen, in a world where no one looks too deeply into the inhabitants and events of the house next door.
Imagine turning up to your own party, and recognising no one. Your best friend has just created your worst nightmare.
Louisa is an exhausted, sleep-deprived new mother and, approaching her fortieth birthday, the very last thing she wants to do is celebrate.
But when her best friend Tiff organises a surprise party, inviting the entire list of Lou’s Facebook friends, she’s faced with a new source of anxiety altogether: a room full of old college classmates who she hasn’t spoken to in twenty years. And one person, in particular, she never expected to see again is there – her ex-boyfriend from college, the handsome and charismatic Oliver Dunmore.
When Oliver’s wife Melissa goes missing after the party, everyone remembers what happened that night differently. It could be the alcohol, but it seems more than one person has something to hide.
Louisa is determined to find the truth about what happened to Melissa. But just how far does she need to look…?
One simple Facebook invitation unfolds into something both tragic and monstrous; a story of obsessive love, breath-taking deception and masterful manipulation.
I received a copy of this book from Avon Books UK via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
Like many psychological thrillers, this one has a strong family drama theme. Written in the third person from Louisa’s point of view, it focuses almost exclusively on her emotions, motivations, observations and thoughts, This does mean that the other characters in the story fade into to the background, even though they are in many cases key to the storyline.
Louisa is an unreliable protagonist, sleep-deprived, looking after a young baby. She may also be suffering from postnatal depression, but because everything is seen from her point of view, and she has no insight into her mental health, this possibility is alluded to, but not explored. Diagnosed with dissociative amnesia, where the person cannot recall personal information, not explained by ordinary forgetting, usually triggered by trauma or extreme stress.
The plot is for the most part believable, the pacing varies, but you are drawn into Lousia’s story. How much of it is in her mind? Is her paranoia, justified, or a symptom of her mental state? Despite her unreliability, I did sympathise with Louisa. The remainder of the characters, could all be guilty of something, with the exception of Emily her teenage daughter, who I also like, especially as she realises how fragile her mother is, as the story progresses, and supports her, the best she can.
The clues and the misinformation are integrated into the plot well, but they didn’t surprise me. The final few chapters are bizarre, but not unimaginable, who knows what they would do in those circumstances?
Every Monday, 49-year-old Ellie looks after her grandson Josh. She loves him more than anyone else in the world. The only thing that can mar her happiness is her husband’s affair. But he swears it’s over now, and Ellie has decided to be thankful for what she’s got.
Then one day, while she’s looking after Josh, her husband gets a call from that woman. And just for a moment, Ellie takes her eyes off her grandson. The accident that happens will change her life forever.
Because Ellie is hiding something in her past.
And what looks like an accident could start to look like murder.
I received a copy of this book from Penguin UK Books via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
This is a psychological thriller that resonates. Whilst, it has all the expected qualities of the genre, it contains so much more. A domestic thriller and a family drama, with secrets and tragedy. Mental Health issues and homelessness are major themes woven into the hard-hitting emotional story. The unreliable protagonist Ellie is a grandmother, which affords her a certain uniqueness in this genre, but her life is riddled with neglect, trauma and self-loathing. She is someone you empathise with, as each terrible injustice and secret are revealed. The ending seems just, but there is a twist that leaves you wondering.
The plot is complex and pacy, it keeps you guessing, whilst you are reeling from the horror and injustice of the women’s lives that are explored. It confuses, it’s meant to. The story is addictive, coherent, and full of relevant examples of mental health issues, and the largely overlooked plight of homelessness. It makes you think, and worry about the society we live in.
The thriller aspect is clever and calculating, the emotion is genuine and heartbreaking, the moral issues raised are thought-provoking and worrying. You will carry this story with you, and not many books in this genre can say that.
Police have ruled out suspicious circumstances in the investigation into the death of Elizabeth Sinclair, wife of charismatic entrepreneur Harry Sinclair, found drowned in the lake of the family’s holiday park.
been two years since the Sinclair case closed but when reporter Steph Durham
receives a tipoff that could give her the scoop of the year, she’s drawn deeper
and deeper into the secretive Sinclair family.
Elizabeth’s death wasn’t a tragic accident. And the truth will come at a deadly price…
I received a copy of this book from Harper Collins UK – Harper Fiction in return for an honest review.
You are thrown into the deep end from the beginning of this book, as you witness a personal tragedy. These scenes engender your empathy towards the victim. Is she as innocent as she seems?
Steph is the PR and journalist for a travel company based in the South of England. She has always wanted to be an investigative journalist, since her days of cub reporting in the North West, but things didn’t work out. The opportunity to review a new leisure venture in her home town is viewed with mixed emotions, but she needs the money. Her friend suggests she uses social media, to advertise her latest job, with a view to gaining further work. The interest she attracts is unexpected and leads her into a role she has always wanted, but at what cost?
The Lake District setting is always good for fiction. The beauty and danger of the landscape, the perfect foil for accidents, or even murder. The Sinclair family, practically own the town, and you are immediately wondering if their influence could cover up a murder? Steph’s estranged mother ran the initial police investigation and her deceased father worked for the Sinclairs, something that puts her at risk, even before she starts her investigation.
The suspense increases with every chapter, and the dual timeline, of Steph’s present-day investigation of Elizabeth’s death, and the historic revelations of Elizabeth’s life up to her demise, work well.
Only Steph and widower Harry are characters that you can empathise, even Elizabeth has her own agenda, and is not really likeable. The other two brothers Dominic and Owen are not attractive humans. One the dominant bully, the other weak, but manipulative. The clues are well hidden in the plot, disguised by the misinformation, but they are there. The ending is well-written, as the suspense reaches breaking-point.
This story keeps you on tenterhooks throughout, with authentic characters, a twisty plot and an unexpected end, it is an excellent domestic thriller.
Sue Fortin is an award-winning USA Today and an Amazon best-selling author, an international bestseller and has reached #1 in the Amazon UK Kindle chart. Sue writes mystery, suspense and romance, sometimes combining all three.
Sue was born in Hertfordshire but had a nomadic childhood, moving often with her family, before eventually settling in West Sussex where she now lives with her husband, children and grandchildren. Facebook PageTwitter InstagramWebsite