SHUTTER by Melissa Larsen


Publisher: Berkley Books
Release Date: June 15, 2021

The premise of SHUTTER held so much potential, but overall this book was a miss for me. The story follows Betty Roux, a young woman who moves across the country to New York, trying to escape the grief of losing her father. Betty’s dream is to be an actress, and a childhood friend hooks her up with a hot director who’s filming an homage (of sorts) toΒ Cape FearΒ on a private island off the coast of Maine.

Poor Betty was so naΓ―ve! She doesn’t hesitate to accept the role as Lola, even though there are so many red flags. Remote location. Only five cast/crew members. Unscripted. Hidden cameras. Once there, the director wants to completely change Betty’s look. And then there’s something weird going on with the island’s caretaker.

Most of the book was a very slow build up to the big reveal at the end, and the reasoning behind the twist seemed so petty. Meh. I did enjoy the atmosphere created, and though the pacing was slow I stayed curious to see how things would play out. It just wasn’t the the thriller I was expecting from the blurb. The author’s writing style did keep me hooked, and I’m curious to see where she goes in her next book. β€” 𝓓𝓲π“ͺ𝓷π“ͺ

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

πŸ“š Find SHUTTER on GoodreadsΒ πŸ“š

THE LISTENING HOUSE by Mabel Seeley


Publisher: Berkley
Release Date: June 8, 2021

First published in 1938, THE LISTENING HOUSE was the debut crime novel of Mabel Seeley, who came to be known as β€œThe Mistress of Mystery.” I’m glad Berkley is reissuing some of her books, because before spotting this one I was not familiar with Seeley’s work.

The main character Gwynne Dacres is a young, independent woman, making her way through the Depression years. After losing her job as a copywriter, she moves into a creepy boarding house run by a grumpy, paranoid woman who’s convinced her tenants are snooping through her things.

Gwynne, too, feels like there’s something off about the house, that something or someone is always listening. Her situation becomes more precarious when back to back suspicious deaths occur at the house. Gwynne gets wrapped up in the investigation when someone targets her, and uncovers some sinister secrets tied to the past.

There was a big group of potential suspects, and I enjoyed their characterizations. I definitely felt like I was sitting among a group of real folks from the 1930s. The mystery was dark and intricate, though I think it dragged in some places. There was even a romance for Gwynne, and plenty of humor mixed in. I’d recommend to fans of mysteries who enjoy the golden age of detective fiction. β€” 𝓓𝓲π“ͺ𝓷π“ͺ

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.Β 

πŸ“š Find THE LISTENING HOUSE on Goodreads πŸ“š

THE HOUSE NEXT DOOR by Anne Rivers Siddons


Publisher: Gallery Books
Release Date: July 3, 2007 β€” Reprint edition
(First published in 1978)

I’ve seen THE HOUSE NEXT DOOR on so many “Best of Horror” lists, and now I know why. It’s an enthralling blend of Southern gothic fiction and quiet horror. The creepy, slow-build kind that makes you question what’s really going on, something sinister or is your mind playing tricks?

This book was originally published in the 1970s and is set during that time. Colquitt and her husband Walter live in an upscale Atlanta neighborhood. There’s a lot of tennis at the club, parties with the neighbors, and day drinking for these folks. Don’t get me wrong! I liked Colquitt and Walter.

For many years an empty wooded “unbuildable” lot sat next to their house, and that’s how they liked it. Then one day, a talented young architect finds a way to build newlyweds their modern dream home on that lot. Neighbors don’t like it, but what can you do? They welcome the couple into the fold, then have to stand back helplessly while their dream home becomes a nightmare. And this happens over and over, tragedy finding each family that moves in.

“In the moonlight the ice-sheathed trees tossed and tinkled like great crystal hands fingering the sky, weaving and reweaving an incantation over the sweetly sleeping shape of the house next door.”

I greatly enjoyed the author’s haunting, beautiful writing and her flawed & memorable characters. I especially loved trying to figure out that malevolent house and its terrible influence on the occupants & neighbors. This is the first book by Siddons I’ve read, and I understand her other books are more contemporary Southern fiction β€” probably wonderful, but I so wish she had written more horror like THE HOUSE NEXT DOOR. Fantastic! β€” 𝓓𝓲π“ͺ𝓷π“ͺ

Check out the different covers over the years, from 1978 to 2007. Such big difference! From horror to mystery/suspense to women’s fiction, maybe? I don’t think the most recent cover fits the story at all!

πŸ“š Find THE HOUSE NEXT DOOR on Goodreads πŸ“š

Vintage Gothic Romance: GHOSTWIND by Rachel Ann Payne

Publisher: Paperback Library
Release Date: November 1966

“A madman stalks Jane Corby at sinister Hampton Hill.”

Oh, Jane Corby! Just ever so slightly too dumb to live. It’s 1867, and Jane, a young New York City librarian, is hired to catalog the extensive library at Hampton Hill, a mansion in a remote area near Syracuse. Locals aren’t too keen on the house’s new owner, the reclusive Captain Ralf Hampton. Something is off about him, his fickle personality, and his entire situation, but Jane can’t help falling in love.

“You just be sure he’s not a wicked man with a key to your door.”

The first half of the book was a little slow, and I did not understand Jane’s insta-love for Ralf, considering she felt threatened by his abusive temperament much of the time. By the second half, the pacing picked up as Jane set out to uncover the mysteries of Hampton Hill and the creepy family vault in the cemetery. I enjoyed the twists and a bit of Civil War history woven into the story, plus, how wonderful that Jane is a librarian. Rating: Good.

GHOSTWIND was originally published in 1966 by Paperback Library. Rachel Ann Payne is a pen name used by John Jakes. β€” 𝓓𝓲π“ͺ𝓷π“ͺ

THE LAST THING HE TOLD ME by Laura Dave

Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Release Date: May 4, 2021

Wow, I loved this book! THE LAST THING HE TOLD ME is an unputdownable twisty suspense novel and family drama that hooked me right away.

Owen and Hannah have only been married a short time when he suddenly disappears. Owen’s last message to Hannah was a note saying, “Protect her,” and she immediately knows he’s referring to his 16-year old daughter, Bailey, whose own mother died when she was very young.

Hannah and her stepdaughter have a chilly relationship, with Bailey wanting nothing to do with her. However, their quest to figure out what happened to Owen and what he’s been hiding begins to change their dynamic.

This is one of the best domestic suspense novels I’ve read, with realistic characters and a believable story. I enjoyed the author’s wonderful, absorbing writing. The last line of the book got me choked up a bit! Highly recommended. β€” 𝓓𝓲π“ͺ𝓷π“ͺ

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

πŸ“š Find THE LAST THING HE TOLD ME on GoodreadsΒ πŸ“š