THE OTHER PASSENGER by Louise Candlish


Publisher: Atria Books
Release Date: July 20, 2021

Self described as โ€œhurtling towards fifty,” long-time partners Jamie and Clare befriend a younger millennial couple, Kit and Melia. I use the term friend loosely, because in reality they are simply jealous of each other, the elders’ wealth versus the younger ones’ youth.

Jamie (James) and Kit (Christopher) commute to work by ferry together, until one morning Kit isn’t on the boat. Jamie is shocked when police meet him at his stop to say that Melia has reported Kit missing. Another passenger has come forward telling police that Jamie and Kit were arguing the evening before. Based on what the witness saw, police want answers. What the heck is going on?

Unfortunately, I really struggled with this book. It moved very slowly, and I wasn’t gripped by the situation or characters. The premise was intriguing, and I enjoyed the twists at the end, but the first 70% was too dull for me. I don’t mind unlikable characters, but there has to be something that makes them compelling or makes me care what happens to them. Not the case here. Also, is there really that much animosity between Gen X and millennials? I would assume that Gen X in particular wouldn’t care. Whatever. ;-)

THE OTHER PASSENGER is the third book I’ve read by this author, and the previous two were enjoyable, twisty domestic suspense. (Check out OUR HOUSE and THOSE PEOPLE.) Even though this one was a miss, I won’t hesitate to pick up her next book. โ€” ๐““๐“ฒ๐“ช๐“ท๐“ช

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

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) toย Cape Fearย on a private island off the coast of Maine.

Poor Betty was so naรฏve! 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. โ€” ๐““๐“ฒ๐“ช๐“ท๐“ช

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

THE SANATORIUM by Sarah Pearse


Publisher: Pamela Dorman Books
Release Date: February 2, 2021

THE SANATORIUM was probably my most anticipated read for early 2021, but unfortunately it didn’t live up to that delicious creepy gothic cover. This book is very popular now so I don’t want to rehash the plot. Here it is in a nutshell:

Elin Warner, a British detective on leave due to PTSD from a case gone wrong, travels to the Swiss Alps to celebrate her estranged brother Isaac’s engagement at a renovated hotel, previously a sanatorium. She and Isaac have some heavy, unresolved family drama. Not long after Elin arrives, Isaac’s fiancรฉe goes missing, a snowstorm traps them at the hotel, and then dead bodies start piling up. Elin investigates to help out local police, though she lacks jurisdiction?

I love snowstorm thrillers, and I appreciated the frozen, isolated setting, especially combined with the hotel’s unsettling history as a tuberculosis hospital. Unfortunately, though, not much else appealed to me. The pacing was slow, I felt detached from the characters, and the culprit’s reason behind the murder spree was too farfetched. And then there’s the confusing epilogue. Meh, not for me. (There are other things Iโ€™d like to add about the killerโ€™s reasoning vs the victims and the epilogue vs the rest of the book, but I wonโ€™t because of spoilers.) โ€” ๐““๐“ฒ๐“ช๐“ท๐“ช

๐Ÿ“š Find THE SANATORIUM on Goodreadsย ๐Ÿ“š

DISAPPEARING EARTH by Julia Phillips


Publisher: Knopf
Release Date: May 14, 2019

Guess I need to file this one under “you can’t love them all.” I feel bad for not liking this book, because it got so many five-star ratings on Goodreads. From the blurb and title, I was expecting DISAPPEARING EARTH to be a suspense/thriller, maybe somehow related to climate change? Not the case. (That last part about climate change was just my imagination.)

I was intrigued because the novel is set on the Kamchatka Peninsula in Russia. I don’t know much about that area, and it sounds fascinating. The book begins with the kidnapping of two young girls, and if you’re only interested in the mystery of their disappearance, then just read the first and last chapter.

The in-between chapters are stand-alone short stories with new characters, and each story has some very loose connection to the kidnapping. For example, one story is about a girl whose best friend’s mother won’t let them go into the city alone anymore because stranger danger.

Overall, I thought the book was dull, and with such a huge cast in a fairly short book, the character development was lacking. Like I mentioned, most readers seemed to love DISAPPEARING EARTH, so please check out their reviews.

I do love the concept of taking a theme and weaving together a collection of related short stories. I read Alice Hoffman’s THE RED GARDEN and BLACKBIRD HOUSE a few years ago and really enjoyed them. โ€” ๐““๐“ฒ๐“ช๐“ท๐“ช

๐Ÿ“š Find DISAPPEARING EARTH on Goodreadsย ๐Ÿ“š