Faye Townsend has planned the perfect summer trip for her family. But returning to the small seaside town her husband grew up in does not go to plan, the rain pours and the long days become stifling. And then the unthinkable happens…
Her husband Jake and her six-year-old son Dylan go for an early morning walk along the beautiful, windswept clifftops. They don’t come back.
As the hours tick by, Dylan’s red baseball cap is found on the beach and Faye finds herself being questioned by the police. They want to know everything about the man she married – is Faye ready to face her husband’s dark past? Or will she have to confront her own secrets first?
And just how far will a mother go to save her only child?
I received a copy of this book from Bookouture via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
The suspense builds quietly, from the first line and ends abruptly, leaving you wanting more, what happens next? Then you’re in the midst of a family holiday, a surprise that seems to be missing the mark?
The family scene that the author describes, from Faye’s point of view, seems familiar, ordinary, even relatable, but the house is creepy, and everyone is tense, and Faye sees someone outside. You are on tenterhooks waiting for something to happen.When it does, it seems straightforward, but it isn’t, and then you’re gripped, and it’s impossible to put down.
The characters are complex, they have so many layers, They all have secrets. There is an unidentified male point of view, that draws your thoughts in one direction, but then the plot twists, and you’re no longer sure.
The twists are subtle but believable, it’s like walking in a maze. I loved how the plot gradually revealed salient details, using flashbacks to Lainey and Jake’s past, but is the point of view reliable?
What you suppose is the final twist, poses a moral dilemma, but from my point of view is satisfying, but then there is a further revelation that ends this riveting story in an unforgettable way.
Two desperate criminals. Something she never saw coming.
In Manchester, two hardened gang members on the run take Catherine Blake and her one-year-old son hostage at gunpoint. She is in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Held in a Transit van, Catherine needs a plan fast. But it means diving into her captors’ risk-drenched world, and playing them at their own game.
Catherine has been through cancer, miscarriages and five draining years of IVF in order to have her son Ethan. He is the most precious thing in the world. She may be terrified out of her wits, but she’d do anything to protect him. Anything, no matter the cost…
I received a copy of this book from Canelo via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
From the first page, this suspenseful thriller is intriguing.
Primarily told from Catherine’s husband’s point of view. He assumes the role of the story’s narrator, a unique and unusual role in this type of thriller. His insight is uncanny and the reader has to accept this until the pieces of the puzzle start to reveal themselves. When it becomes clear why he has this unusual insight into her thoughts, it’s probably not what you think, and so becomes a more compelling viewpoint.
Catherine is in a nightmare scenario and as the story unfolds you can understand what motivates her behaviour. Like me, you may wonder what you would do in the same situation. Catherine’s husband’s admiration of her is apparent throughout. She is a clever, driven character, who has fought to bring her child into the world and will never relinquish him. You empathise with her strongly but then, as you think it’s all over, it isn’t.
Gangland crime is at the heart of this plot but there are no stereotypes, the antagonists are believable and have no redeeming features, you are very much on the side of Catherine and Ethan her innocent child.
The twist is masterful and unexpected and makes the final chapters of the story enthralling.
Contemporary crime, authentic police procedures, and an intense, original plot, make ‘Trapped’ one of my favourite thrillers this year.
Guest Post – Nick Louth – Inspiration for Trapped
The original spark of inspiration for Trapped came after I read the brilliant novel Room by Emma Donoghue. I asked myself, could I write something that is even more claustrophobic than that? A story where the walls close in even tighter, where the threats are not mere confinement, but death. That’s when I came upon the idea of a woman and her child being imprisoned in the back of a squalid Transit van, inside a multi-storey car park surrounded by armed police. I wanted a dark, gritty setting, where the odds of survival were low. The next stage was to build a collision of temperament and outlook between prisoners and captors, to create a cauldron of conflict. Catherine Blake is the ultimate risk-averse mother, having finally given birth after years of trying, enduring miscarriages and IVF. Her protective nature involves shielding this precious child from even the most remote risks, by planning and foresight. Fretwell and Cousins, the gangsters who capture her and her child, are two men for whom long-term planning is a few minutes or at most a few hours. They get a kick from risk, a thrill from danger. Normally, these contrasting types of people do not run into each other. The power of the book comes from throwing them together in a believable way, under massive external pressure when the police arrive.
It’s not difficult to build scary gangsters, but what is hard is to steer away from the many cliches and stereotypes which infest the genre of crime fiction. In this case, I started with the names, courtesy of my own late father who used to tell me stories when I was a child of his national service in the 1950s. Amongst the many memorable characters, were the fearsome London hooligans Fretwell and Cousins, who intimidated even the sergeant major in my father’s regiment. The characters are completely different from those he described, but the names have a marvellous rhythm and are grafted onto two new characters. We spend very little time in the gangsters’ heads, but their actions reflect their impulsiveness. Our view into Catherine’s head is far more detailed and comes through her husband, who has a special all-seeing viewpoint that becomes ever clearer as the narrative progresses. His love for her and the ominous portents that he reveals are designed to create a shadow of foreboding right from the beginning. I’m very pleased with the reception that this unusual narrative voice has received from reviewers.
Nick Louth is a best-selling thriller writer, award-winning financial journalist and an investment commentator. A 1979 graduate of the London School of Economics, he went on to become a Reuters foreign correspondent in 1987. It was an experience at a medical conference in Amsterdam in 1992 while working for Reuters, that gave him the inspiration for Bite, which was self-published in 2007 and went on to become the UK No. 1 Kindle best-seller for several weeks in 2014 before being snapped up by Sphere. It has sold a third of a million copies and been translated into six languages.
The terrorism thriller Heartbreaker was published in June 2014 and received critical acclaim from Amazon readers, with a 4.6 out of 5 stars on over 100 reviews. Mirror Mirror, subtitled ‘When evil and beauty collide’ was published in June 2016. The Body in the Marsh, a crime thriller, is being published by Canelo in September 2017. Freelance since 1998, he has been a regular contributor to the Financial Times, Investors Chronicle and Money Observer, and has published seven other books. Nick Louth is married and lives in Lincolnshire.
When a mysterious note arrives for seven months pregnant nurse Eliana Hughes, she begins to doubt every aspect of her life – from her mixed feelings about motherhood to her marriage to Martin, who has become distant in recent months.
As the person behind the note escalates their campaign to out Eli’s husband as a cheat, she finds herself unable to trust even her own instincts, and as pressure builds, she makes a mistake that jeopardises her entire future.
Elsewhere, someone is watching. Someone who desperately wants a baby to call their own and will go to any lengths to become a mother – and stay a mother…
I received a copy of this book from Avon Books UK via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
A spine chilling domestic set psychological thriller. Like the previous novel ‘Her Name Was Rose’, the plot is believable and therefore menacing. The plot has many twists and you understand how Eli cannot trust anyone in her life.
Told from three points of view, there is a sense of dramatic irony, as you as the reader know more than the main protagonist. However can you believe what you read, or are you being misled?
Addictive, Authentic and Audacious and worth reading.
Andrea Oliver is celebrating her birthday over lunch with her mother, Laura when they ﬁnd themselves in the middle of a deadly shooting. Terriﬁed, Andy is frozen. But Laura – calm, cool and collected – jumps into action and stops the killer in his tracks. No one can understand how a quiet, middle-aged speech pathologist could possibly have the knowledge or ability to stop a shooter on the rampage. The fallout and widespread media coverage quickly unravel the carefully curated life Laura has built for herself and her daughter. And Andy discovers that the person who she thought she knew best in the world is a total stranger. The bigger problem though is that someone wants them both dead. As two intersecting timelines – 1986 and the present – gradually converge, Pieces of Her begs the question: can you ever truly escape your past?
For years, even while she’d loved him, part of her had hated him in that childish way that you hate something you can’t control. He was headstrong and stupid, and handsome, which gave him cover for a hell of a lot of the mistakes he continually made—the same mistakes, over and over again, because why try new ones when the old ones worked so well in his favor?
He was charming, too. That was the problem. He would charm her. He would make her furious. Then he would charm her back again so that she did not know if he was the snake or she was the snake and he was the handler.
So he sailed along on his charm, and his fury, and he hurt people, and he found new things that interested him more, and the old things were left broken in his wake.
Then, quite suddenly, his charm had stopped working. A trolley car off the tracks. A train without a conductor. The mistakes could not be forgiven, and eventually, the second same mistake would not be overlooked, and the third same mistake had dire consequences that had ended with a life being taken, a death sentence being passed, then—almost—resulted in the loss of another life, her life.
How could she still love someone who had tried to destroy her?
When she had been with him—and she was decidedly with him during his long fall from grace—they had raged against the system: The group homes. The emergency departments. The loony bin. The mental hospital. The squalor. The staff who neglected their patients. The orderlies who ratcheted tight the straight jackets. The nurses who looked the other way. The doctors who doled out the pills. The urine on the floor. The faeces on the walls. The inmates, the fellow prisoners, taunting, wanting, beating, biting.
The spark of rage, not the injustice, was what had excited him the most. The novelty of a new cause. The chance to annihilate. The dangerous game. The threat of violence. The promise of fame. Their names in lights. Their righteous deeds on the tongues of schoolchildren who were taught the lessons of change.
A penny, a nickel, a dime, a quarter, a dollar bill . . .
What she had kept hidden, the one sin that she could never confess to, was that she had ignited that first spark.
She had always believed—vehemently, with great conviction— that the only way to change the world was to destroy it.
“Andrea,” her mother said. Then, in concession to a request made roughly one thousand times before, “Andy.”
“Let me speak, darling.” Laura paused. “Please.”
Andy nodded, preparing for a long-awaited lecture. She was officially thirty-one years old today. Her life was stagnating. She had to start making decisions rather than having life make decisions for her.
Laura said, “This is my fault.”
Andy felt her chapped lips peel apart in surprise. “What’s your fault?”
“You’re being here. Trapped here.”
Andy held out her arms, indicating the restaurant. “At the Rise-n-Dine?”
Her mother’s eyes traveled the distance from the top of Andy’s head to her hands, which fluttered nervously back to the table. Dirty brown hair thrown into a careless ponytail. Dark circles under her tired eyes. Nails bitten down to the quick. The bones of her wrists like the promontory of a ship. Her skin, normally pale, had taken on the pallor of hot dog water.
The catalog of flaws didn’t even include her work outfit. The navy-blue uniform hung off Andy like a paper sack. The stitched silver badge on her breast pocket was stiff, the Belle Isle palm tree logo surrounded by the words police dispatch division. Like a police officer, but not actually. Like an adult, but not really. Five nights a week, Andy sat in a dark, dank room with four other women answering 911 calls, running license plate and driver’s license checks, and assigning case numbers. Then, around six in the morning, she slinked back to her mother’s house and spent the majority of what should’ve been her waking hours asleep.
Laura said, “I never should have let you come back here.”
Andy pressed together her lips. She stared down at the last bits of yellow eggs on her plate.
“My sweet girl.” Laura reached across the table for her hand, waited for her to look up. “I pulled you away from your life. I was scared, and I was selfish.” Tears rimmed her mother’s eyes. “I shouldn’t have needed you so much. I shouldn’t have asked for so much.”
Andy shook her head. She looked back down at her plate. “Darling.”
Andy kept shaking her head because the alternative was to speak, and if she spoke, she would have to tell the truth.
Her mother had not asked her to do anything.
Three years ago, Andy had been walking to her shitty Lower East Side fourth-floor walk-up, dreading the thought of another night in the one-bedroom hovel she shared with three other girls, none of whom she particularly liked, all of whom were younger, prettier and more accomplished when Laura had called. “Breast cancer,” Laura had said, not whispering or hedging but coming straight out with it in her usual calm way. “Stage three. The surgeon will remove the tumor, then while I’m under,
he’ll biopsy the lymph nodes to evaluate—”
Laura had said more, detailing what was to come with a degree of detached, scientific specificity that was lost on Andy, whose language-processing skills had momentarily evaporated. She had heard the word “breast” more than “cancer,” and thought instantly of her mother’s generous bosom. Tucked beneath her modest one-piece swimsuit at the beach. Peeking over the neckline of her Regency dress for Andy’s Netherfield- themed sixteenth birthday party. Strapped under the padded cups and gouging underwires of her LadyComfort Bras as she sat on the couch in her office and worked with her speech therapy patients.
Laura Oliver was not a bombshell, but she had always been what men called very well put together. Or maybe it was women who called it that, probably back in the last century. Laura wasn’t the type for heavy make-up and pearls, but she never left the house without her short gray hair neatly styled, her linen pants crisply starched, her underwear clean and still elasticized.
Andy barely made it out of the apartment most days. She was constantly having to double back for something she had forgotten like her phone or her ID badge for work or, one time, her sneakers because she’d walked out of the building wearing her bedroom slippers.
Whenever people in New York asked Andy what her mother was like, she always thought of something Laura had said about her own mother: She always knew where all the tops were to her Tupperware.
Andy couldn’t be bothered to close a Ziploc bag.
On the phone, eight hundred miles away, Laura’s stuttered intake of breath was the only sign that this was difficult for her. “Andrea?”
Andy’s ears, buzzing with New York sounds, had zeroed back in on her mother’s voice.
Andy tried to grunt. She could not make the noise. This was shock. This was fear. This was unfettered terror because the world had suddenly stopped spinning and everything—the failures, the disappointments, the horror of Andy’s New York existence for the last six years—receded like the drawback wave of a tsunami. Things that should’ve never been uncovered were suddenly out in the open.
Her mother had cancer. She could be dying.
She could die.
Laura had said, “So, there’s chemo, which will by all accounts be very difficult.” She was used to filling Andy’s protracted silences, had learned long ago that confronting her on them was more likely to end up in a fight than a resumption of civil conversation. “Then I’ll take a pill every day, and that’s that. The five-year survival rate is over seventy percent, so there’s not a lot to worry about except for getting through it.” A pause for breath, or maybe in hopes that Andy was ready to speak. “It’s very treatable, darling. I don’t want you to worry. Just stay where you are. There’s nothing you can do.”
A car horn had blared. Andy had looked up. She was standing statue-like in the middle of a crosswalk. She struggled to move. The phone was hot against her ear. It was past midnight. Sweat rolled down her back and leached from her armpits like melted butter. She could hear the canned laughter of a sitcom, bottles clinking, and an anonymous piercing scream for help, the likes of which she had learned to tune out her first month living in the city.
Too much silence on her end of the phone. Finally, her mother had prompted, “Andrea?”
Andy had opened her mouth without considering what words should come out.
“Darling?” her mother had said, still patient, still generously nice in the way that her mother was to everyone she met. “I can hear the street noises, otherwise I’d think we’d lost the connection.” She paused again. “Andrea, I really need you to acknowledge what I’m telling you. It’s important.”
Her mouth was still hanging open. The sewer smell that was endemic to her neighborhood had stuck to the back of her nasal passages like a piece of overcooked spaghetti slapped onto a kitchen cabinet. Another car horn blared. Another woman screamed for help. Another ball of sweat rolled down Andy’s back and pooled in the waistband of her underwear. The elastic was torn where her thumb went when she pulled them down.
Andy still could not recall how she’d managed to force herself out of her stupor, but she remembered the words she had finally said to her mother: “I’m coming home.”
Andrea is still looking for her role in life, easily influenced she takes the road of least resistance. Not the most likeable of characters until she is the victim of a violent shooting attack, which shows a different side to her mother and leads Andrea(Andy) on a life-endangering journey of discovery. Laura is well-respected in her small community, but she has a secret past, one she has hidden from her daughter and now threatens their lives.
The beginning is atmospheric and shocking, as is Laura’s reaction to the danger in the mall. The story reveals Laura’s story in 1986 as her daughter Andy discovers it in the present day in the aftermath of the mall incident. The detailed plot portrays the late eighties ethos and prejudices accurately. Urban terrorism is a predominant theme, and again this is realistic and reminiscent of actual events in the late 1970s and1980s.
The mother-daughter dynamic is the foundation of this crime thriller, and it gives the story depth and poignancy that would otherwise be missing. Andy finds out she knows little about her mother but their bond is strong, finding out about her mother’s past frees Andy to be herself and her character development is extensive. She is far more empathic and likeable by the story’s end.
The action is intense and realistic, and necessarily horrific, the language is often crude, but again this adds to the plot’s authenticity. The vivid descriptions make it easy to visualise the action and the characters although sometimes difficult to understand are complex and believable.
A crime thriller with intrinsic suspense and an absorbing family mystery.
I received a copy of this book from Harper Fiction – Harper Collins UK via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
Karin Slaughter has sold over 35 million books, making her one of the most popular crime writers today. She is the author of more than a dozen novels, including the Will Trent and Grant County series and the instant New York Times bestsellers Cop Town and Pretty Girls. Her previous novel, The Good Daughter, was a no.1 Sunday Times bestseller in paperback. She is passionate, no-nonsense, provocative, and is one of suspense ﬁction’s most articulate ambassadors. Her Will Trent Series, Grant County Series, and stand-alone novel Cop Town are all in development for ﬁlm & television. She lives in Atlanta, Georgia.