One by One by Ruth Ware

Thrilling reads continue in October with ‘One by One’ by Ruth Ware. Even the cover of this book says thrilling read ahead, with its grey tones and isolated chalet.

Told from the perspectives of Liz and Erin, we escape to the chalet for a skiing holiday, combined with a business trip with the team behind a new music app ‘Snoop’. However, there is nothing relaxing about this trip as, one by one, members of the group are killed or disappearing. But why is this happening? And who is responsible? Especially when there is no escape.

Although the pace was a little slow to begin with, once it picked up, this became a book where you just needed to read one more chapter to find out what was going to happen next.

Definitely a good pick for these autumn evenings.

As Good As Dead by Holly Jackson

We have been reunited with Pip for one final time as we reach the end of her trilogy. Like so many, this was a most anticipated read of 2021 for me. I was so excited to see how Holly Jackson would conclude this for us all.

You can feel the tension from the first page of this YA thriller. Pip is clearly suffering from the events of her last case, but there is still a mystery to solve. Who is taunting her and stalking her? And why? And is it linked to the case of the Duct Tape Killer and another miscarriage of justice?

This book has everything we love: Pip, Ravi, Pip’s family and friends, and her usual determination. However, as much as I enjoyed reading this book, I am not sure if all of the action was ‘realistic’ or true to the Pip we know. I realise that this is about Pip dealing with trauma and her own ideas about a miscarriage of justice, but I was just not completely convinced I could see some of the behaviour as true to her previous actions.

But, don’t get me wrong, I loved the book and, like so many, I am sad that we have come to the end of Pip’s story. And I am definitely imagining the best future for her…and Ravi.

Holly Jackson has given us a wonderfully engaging YA trilogy, and I hope that we will hear more from her soon.

The Dinner Guest by B P Walton

My lovely booksta buddy Philippa was kind enough to pass ‘The Dinner Guest’ to me. And what a thrilling read it is. (With a book club and a scene in Waterstones, of course book lovers would get hooked).

A murder takes place, Rachel confesses but it is all not as simple as it seems. Why would Rachel murder someone she has just met? And, if she didn’t, why would she confess to it?

I always enjoy a thriller that seems to be a little different. We seem to know who committed the crime, yet there is a whole book ahead of us. There are red herrings, and twists and turns as we move between the present and the past – and have the truth slowly revealed to us as we see story through the eyes of Rachel and Charlie.

This book is engaging and written in a way that makes it a page-turner. And, like so many books, it may be a part of the thriller genre, but is also tackles other key social issues and the impact that they have on human relationships.

So, if you fancy a thriller this summer, why not meet ‘The Dinner Guest’?

Little Disasters by Sarah Vaughan

This book was the March thriller of the month from Waterstones and may have been an accidental purchase when I was shopping for presents. I picked it up as my latest read because I was in a thriller mood. However, I have to admit that it was not my favourite thriller that I have ever read.

I think for some, the subject of the book may be difficult, as it deals with postnatal depression and a potential case of child abuse. However, it is handled with care as part of the narrative.

I like elements of this thriller. It made you aware of checking in on people that sometimes you do not know what people are carrying around with them. There was an interesting study of the characters and their relationships. Especially, the idea of friendship and how they are handled by different people. Also, how far will some people go for their friends? However, it was a little slow and this did not add to the story unfortunately. The slower pace led the book to lose some of the thrilling factors.

I think some people will enjoy this thriller, if they enjoy stories that are very character-driven, but for me it was slightly lacking.

The Cousins by Karen M McManus

Around this time last year, I was going to go to an author event with Karen M McManus and Holly Jackson – and then a global pandemic struck. However, that does not stop us enjoying the books these fabulous authors write, so I was excited when ‘The Cousins’ hit the bookshops.

‘The Cousins’ is another great piece of YA fiction. In fact, I feel I have enjoyed this one the most, and I have loved them all. This has all the ingredients you expect from a great thriller – secrets, lies, unknown dark figures and a family mystery. And all this creates a brilliant page-turner (in fact, like all dedicated bookworms, I read past my bedtime because I had to know what happened).

As I always say, I don’t want to give away too much about the book, as it is a thriller. What I will say is that if you have enjoyed the other books from Karen M McManus then you will enjoy this one. I could say so much more but I don’t trust myself not to spoil it. But, please, if you love a YA thriller, go on the adventure with the cousins Aubrey, Milly and Jonah Story.

Your Neighbour’s Wife by Tony Parsons

I have been lucky enough to be gifted a copy of ‘Your Neighbour’s Wife’ as part of a Tandem Collective UK readalong. What a gift it has been to read this novel at the start of a second very strange year.

One of my absolutely favourite novels is ‘Man and Boy’ by Tony Parsons, but I had never read any of his thrillers. And it is fair to say that I have been missing out, as Parsons can pen an excellent thriller.

As I always mention, writing about thriller novels can be difficult because I never want to risk letting any spoilers slip out. So, what I am going to say is that this is a real page-turner. I genuinely struggled to put this down, as it builds so many fascinating mysteries as the story unfolds. Secrets, lies and mysteries relating to every single character (other than the lovely and innocent Marlon and Buddy the dog) have you drawing all sorts of conclusions, rightly or wrongly. And you really are surprised as some of these are revealed to you.

Also, as Tony Parsons does so well, there is an interesting study of relationships throughout this book. Romantic relationships, family relationships and friendships all come under the microscopeas we follow the thrilling tale from start to finish.

So, in conclusion of you are looking for a new, tense thriller for 2021, then this is the book for you.

Crooked by Bronwen John

It is my stop for this thrilling read on its blog tour, and I can’t wait to share my thoughts (so I hope you keep reading).

I was gifted a copy of ‘Crooked’ and I know you should not judge a book by its cover, but I was immediately intrigued by this YA thriller. And this continued as soon as I started reading.

You are immediately thrown into the action; in central London, you meet Ash and her friends as they are involved in a bit of a con. It seems to be quite a money maker for the gang, until they select the wrong mark. And, a turn for the worse, as Ash is dragged into conflict with a dangerous London gangster – or two.

Now, this is another brilliant read that I do not want to spoil for you all. However, I can say that something that I thought was excellent about this book is that there are strong, independent female leads. And they are not scared to take on the men.

There are so many twists and turns in this book that you are not sure who you trust – and who the characters trust. I just had to keep reading, keen to know what revelation would come next and who was really conning who.

So, if you love a thrilling read (and an adventure), whatever your age, then this is the book for you. So, why not pick up a copy and give it go?

The Guest List by Lucy Foley

October is my favourite time of year for thrilling reads. And ‘The Guest List’ is certainly that – in fact, I am even willing to go as far as to say it is better than ‘The Hunting Party‘.

This, as with all books with an element of suspense, is a hard book to offer a blog post on, as I do not wish to inadvertently issue any spoilers. However, I can tell you that this book had all the brilliant ingredients of a thrilling read. An isolated island, a whole host of characters carrying secrets, and twists and turns. Part of the reason I loved this book was that I managed to pick up some of the clues that were scattered throughout the story but I did not spot them all, so some of the reveals were a surprise.

I was not particularly a fan of the number of characters. Although, as the story is told, you do begin to change your view of many – sometimes for the better and sometimes for the worse.

I think, overall, this tale seemed more slick than ‘The Hunting Party’. And, although it was still a tale of secrets and lies, this just seemed maybe a little more complex. Yet, I still enjoyed both and think Lucy Foley is a great modern thriller writer. I would definitely be willing to read more stories from her imagination.

The Heatwave by Kate Riordan

This month’s ‘Tasting Notes Book Club‘ pick was ‘The Heatwave’. This was not what I was expecting, and was a prime example of not judging a book by its cover.

By looking at this book, I thought it was going to be a ‘summer read’. Something easy and gentle to enjoy as the summer draws to an end. However, this book is so much more. This is a sophisticated and stylish thriller – you will be hooked as soon as you start, because the mysterious atmosphere is generated almost immediately.

Set during a heatwave in France, Sylvie returns to a family house in the south. She is keen to sell the house and, with it, hopefully leave painful memories in the past. The question is – what exactly did happen to Elodie? What is the past that Sylvie is trying to forget?

Told between the past and the story’s present, there is an excellent slow pace to the tale that builds suspense and mystery. In fact, you feel as though you are in the south of France enjoying the slower pace of life in the summer. Although, it feels there is always an element of threat hanging over the tale in its present and its past.

I think this is a book that I could have easily overlooked if I had not been part of the ‘Tasting Notes Book Club’ – so, that is another reason why book clubs are such a fantastic idea. If you are looking for an atmospheric thriller as summer fades, this is the book for you!

Lost You by Haylen Beck

A new thriller to me this summer is ‘Lost You’ but Haylen Beck. To begin with, well from the title, I thought it may be the usual tale of relationships within a family. However, I was a little wrong. This was a clever and slick tale which did not at all follow the path I was entirely expecting. In fact, it raises quite some moral questions.

I do not wish to spoil the plots and twists of this book – always an issue when you come to review/share thoughts on a thriller. However, this is certainly not your usual missing child thriller – it is far more complex that that. All the moral questions are raised around the ideas of surrogacy – and potential power games and manipulation of vulnerable people (for many different reasons).

As the tale develops, I am not sure that the twists are a surprise, however it is still a well constructed narrative and a page-turner. Quite a study of people’s psychology and the impact events can have.

A book for fans of modern thrillers, especially with a very modern theme.