CLOSER THAN YOU KNOW by Brad Parks {Review}

Publisher: Dutton
Release Date: March 6, 2018
Source: Review copy from the publisher
Rating: ★★★★¼

Disaster, Melanie Barrick was once told, is always closer than you know.

It was a lesson she learned the hard way growing up in the constant upheaval of foster care. But now that she’s survived into adulthood–with a loving husband, a steady job, and a beautiful baby boy named Alex–she thought that turmoil was behind her.

Until one Tuesday evening when she goes to pick up Alex from childcare only to discover he’s been removed by Social Services. And no one will say why. It’s a terrifying scenario for any parent, but doubly so for Melanie, who knows the unintended horrors of what everyone coldly calls “the system.”

Her nightmare mushrooms when she arrives home to learn her house has been raided by sheriff’s deputies, who have found enough cocaine to send Melanie to prison for years. The evidence against her is overwhelming, and if Melanie can’t prove her innocence, she’ll lose Alex forever.

Meanwhile, assistant commonwealth’s attorney Amy Kaye–who has been assigned Melanie’s case–has her own troubles. She’s been dogged by a cold case no one wants her to pursue: a serial rapist who has avoided detection by wearing a mask and whispering his commands. Over the years, he has victimized dozens of women.

Including Melanie. Yet now her attacker might be the key to her salvation . . . or her undoing.

Folks, this book made me a nervous wreck!! The protagonist Melanie Barrick is faced with a nightmare scenario: She goes pick up her infant son from daycare, only to be told he was taken away by Social Services, and no one will tell her why or where he is. Honestly, I don’t know how I would continue to function. Things get worse when she gets home to find the police have raided her home and found a HUGE dealer’s amount of cocaine hidden in the ceiling. Defending herself seems hopeless, and thoughts of being reunited with her baby are all that keep her going.

CLOSER THAN YOU KNOW was a great read, fast-paced and exciting, and I will forgive the nervous knot it put in my stomach. It wasn’t without some flaws though. There were a few things that just didn’t make sense (like why only Melanie was blamed for the hidden cocaine and not her husband too). I did figure out the culprit about half-way through, but that didn’t detract from my enjoyment. I was still flipping pages as fast as I could to see if/how Melanie got out of her predicament. I could easily sympathize with Melanie, and I liked the prosecuting attorney, Amy Kaye, too. Both were smart, tough, and relatable. I’m looking forward to more from Brad Parks.

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book through Penguin’s First to Read Program in exchange for an honest review.

LET ME LIE by Clare Mackintosh {Review}

Publisher: Berkley
Release Date: March 13, 2018
Source: Review copy from the publisher
Rating: ★★★★½

The stunning new novel from Clare Mackintosh, the international bestselling author of I Let You Go and I See You.

The police say it was suicide.
Anna says it was murder.
They’re both wrong.

Last year, Tom and Caroline Johnson chose to end their lives, one seemingly unable to live without the other. Their daughter, Anna, is struggling to come to terms with her parents’ deaths, unwilling to accept the verdict of suicide.

Now with a baby herself, Anna feels her mother’s absence keenly and is determined to find out what really happened to her parents. But as she digs up the past, someone is trying to stop her.

Sometimes it’s safer to let things lie…

LET ME LIE is a dark and clever psychological thriller, and the perfect cure for my reading slump. This is the third book by Clare Mackintosh that I’ve read, and I always enjoy her writing. She has a talent for creating emotional, character-driven suspense with amazing twists that really mess with your head. She makes you love/hate/sympathize with characters, and then bam! A big twist comes along to make you question everything.

Anna Johnson is a daughter grieving over the suicides of her parents the previous year. Then she receives something that makes her suspicious, makes her think that maybe they were murdered instead. The story alternates between Anna and other players in this twisted tale, including a retired detective named Murray who checks into the Johnson’s case. I loved Murray’s character, and his relationship with his troubled wife was heart-rending. The book goes from a slow-burn in the beginning to a thrilling roller coaster ride at the end, and I enjoyed it all.

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

THOUGHTS ON BOOKS (#4): The Perfect Nanny / Into the Water

The Perfect NannyThe Perfect Nanny by Leila Slimani
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

Ugh, from the very beginning, this book was chilling. Unsettling. It’s not a typical thriller, more character-driven, maybe a character study of sorts. None of the characters were likable, but they were fascinating.

A young Parisian couple, Myriam and Paul, hire Louise as a nanny for their two small children. With a good reference from her previous employer, and being somewhat desperate to find childcare, they quickly welcome Louise into their lives. Oh, dear. Louise seems perfect on the outside, but she has hidden issues, which are slowly reveled as the story progresses.

While reading this book, I felt like I was watching the characters from a distance rather than being a part of the story. I wonder if it’s because this is the English translation from French, or was that the intent. The writing was good…just had a distant feel. The ending, well, I wanted more. Too many questions unanswered.

Into the WaterInto the Water by Paula Hawkins
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I lost patience with INTO THE WATER early on. By page 32, I counted seven different POVs. Confusing! A few more POVs were added after that. Basically the story was about a place called “The Drowning Pool” where several women died, beginning in the 1600s. The latest death is a woman who was writing a book about this seemingly cursed place. Sounded promising, but turned out to be dull. Needed more suspense. I was looking forward to this book, but in the end it was just meh.

“Reading a book is like re-writing it for yourself.” – Angela Carter