Tuesday 30 April 2019

Book Review: THOSE PEOPLE by Louise Candlish

Author: Louise Candlish
Publisher: Berkley Publishing
Read: April 2019
Expected publication: 11 June 2019

Book Description:

Lowland Way is the suburban dream. The houses are beautiful, the neighbors get along, and the kids play together on weekends.

But when Darren and Jodie move into the house on the corner, they donΚΌt follow the rules. They blast music at all hours, begin an unsightly renovation, and run a used-car business from their yard. It doesn't take long for an all-out war to start brewing.

Then, early one Saturday, a horrific death shocks the street. As police search for witnesses, accusations start flying--and everyone has something to hide.

My musings:

Holy moly, what a hell of a ride this book was! I really enjoyed the fictional neighbourhood Candlish conjured up in her last novel OUR HOUSE, but she has taken it one step further this time and really ratcheted up the tension here.

“Those people” is a term that refers to Darren and Jodie, the new hellish neighbours in No 1 Lowland Way. We have made an effort, the other residents will say. But to be honest, they never even tried to fit in, did they? Rude Darren with his loud music and junk cars lined up all the way down the street, whose hostility even jeopardises the “play outside Sunday” scheme that has made this neighbourhood one of the most desirable in this part of the city. Jodie, his partner, who scowls and gets abusive when she is being confronted with the other neighbours’ requests to conform to the high standards of Lowland Way. It doesn’t take long until they have brought down the tone of the whole street. House prices are already plummeting. Marriages are on the brink. And soon someone will be dead ....

I really enjoy slow burning, character driven books based on interpersonal relationships, and this one really delivered all that and more! It was such an entertaining read, which may not be the proper word for a tale of conflict and tension. It made for that sort of gloating feeling you get when you are confronted by a bunch of dysfunctional characters and instantly a) feel better about yourself; and b) believe your own life look pretty normal in comparison.

What drives respectable people to take the plunge into the world of crime and corruption? Murder, even? If you have ever wondered this, then you are in for a treat. The slow and steady unravelling of a whole neighbourhood because of two unlikeable misfits is like watching a forest-fire take hold – you know it is not going to end well. I loved the way Candlish exposes the deepest darkest corners of our characters’ minds, right down to the unexpected finale. Apart from creating the “bad neighbours” from hell, she also isn’t afraid to highlight the hypocrisies and double standard of the wealthy – and slightly arrogant - residents of Lowland Way when things don’t go their way. But who am I to judge? Our neighbourhood quibbles (“That blasted dog from No 10 is barking again!”) sound perfectly harmless in the face of Darren’s exploits. I particularly enjoyed the different POVs from all the residents that are involved in this giant conflict – it made for some interesting perspectives, and the excerpts from the police statements break up the story nicely. 


Those People is a book for readers who enjoy slow burning, character driven books that slowly and deliciously unravel – sit by with a glass of wine in hand and watch it all go to sh**. If you are a reader who wants action, then you may find this one a bit slow to take off. However, Candlish draws her characters well and with great skill, which made this a joy to read for me. I soon found myself utterly consumed by the situation, and I couldn’t wait to find out how it would all play out. Another original and entertaining read from the author – what a great movie this one would make! I really look forward to see what she comes up with next.

Thank you to Edelweiss and Berkley Publishing for the free electronic copy of this novel and for giving me the opportunity to provide an honest review.

Monday 29 April 2019

Book Review: EIGHT LIVES by Susan Hurley

Title: Eight Lives
Author: Susan Hurley
Publisher: Affirm Press
Read: March 2019
Expected publication: out now
My Rating: πŸŒŸπŸŒŸπŸŒŸπŸŒŸπŸŒŸ all the stars!

Book Description:

A brilliant young doctor is dead ... and someone has to take the blame.

Former refugee David Tran becomes the Golden Boy of Australian medical research and invents a drug that could transform immunology. Eight volunteers are recruited for the first human trial, a crucial step on the path to global fame for David and windfall gains for his investors. But when David dies in baffling circumstances, motives are put under the microscope.

With its origins in a real-life drug trial that ended in tragedy, EIGHT LIVES is told from the perspectives of David’s friends, family and business associates, who all played a role in his downfall.

My musings:

“When eating the fruit, think of the person who planted the tree.”

What scientist has not dreamed of discovering the drug that will cure cancer or any of the killer diseases out there? It would make them not only a lifesaving hero, but also a billionaire. But I am betting that the average person has no idea of the “behind the scenes” that is necessary before a new medication hits the market. According to one of the interesting facts the author discloses in this intelligent thriller is that only 15% of all drugs that go through clinical trial actually make it onto the market. Which is quite an eye-opener, considering that a clinical trial costs tens of thousands of dollars if not more. Not to mention the political wheelings and dealings that play out between drug companies. So even if you discovered that grandma’s innocuous herb in her vegie patch is the new cure to diabetes, don’t hold your breath that fame and fortune await any time soon.

Former asylum seeker turned protΓ©gΓ© doctor David Tran has indeed managed to crack the code that could turn on our own immune system to fight disease, making him the golden boy of Australian medicine and highly sought after by drug companies wanting to cash in on his imminent success. If the drug makes it through all stages of clinical trials, it could be worth billions. But on the eve of the first human trial, David is dead. What happened? Who is to blame?

EIGHT LIVES is one of the most intriguing, intelligent and well-researched medical thrillers I have ever read, and the author’s intimate knowledge of medical research and the pharmaceutical industry became very obvious as soon as the story unfolded. As a health professional, I had no problems with the medical terminology included in the book – in fact, I appreciated the accurate portrayal of medical procedures and processes that often get lost in works of fiction for the sake of entertainment or simply because the author is not familiar with them. With its Australian setting, the book also reflected our own medical system here, which made it easier to navigate for me than US based medical thrillers.

Hurley tells her tale through the POVs of multiple characters, and it was one of those rare books where I found each and every character equally interesting. I also really appreciated the inclusion of characters from different cultural backgrounds, like David (Dung) Tran and his family, who were asylum seekers from Vietnam, and Rosa, whose family were Italian. It added an extra depth to the story and reflected some of the current topics related to immigration in Australia. As the story slowly unfolds through different eyes, and each character’s unique voice, we soon learn that David’s unfortunate death is surrounded by mystery and speculation. Why did this brilliant young man have to die?

Hurley includes many fascinating facts about immunology, pharmaceuticals, drug trials, animal and human testing of drugs and the politics behind having a new medication approved for market, which all made for fascinating reading. I was drawn in very quickly and could not tear myself away! Whilst some characters are not very likeable, there is always some subtle self-deprecating humour and good Aussie tongue-in-cheek at play here, which gave the story a special flair I really enjoyed.

IF you are wondering about the title – it will make perfect sense in the end. An end which is as tragic as it is shocking, and took me by surprise. I would have to be a true mastermind to tie together all the strings on my own, but it was very satisfying to finally have all the answers. What really happened to David Tran? You will have to read it to find out. Make sure to also read the author’s note, which explains the inspiration for this story, which made it even more poignant for me. Also notable are some of the ethical issues raised in this novel, which would make for an interesting discussion in a reading group.


Multi-layered, intelligent, gripping and satisfying are all terms that come to mind when trying to describe this book. I highly recommend it to readers who are looking for a smart medical thriller from a writer who has insider knowledge of the industry and is not afraid to showcase it. I really hope to read more from this author in future!

Thank you to Netgalley and Affirm Press for the free electronic copy of this novel and for giving me the opportunity to provide an honest review.

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Tuesday 16 April 2019

Book Review: SLEEP by C.L. Taylor

Title: SLEEP
Author: C.L. Taylor
Publisher: HarperCollins Australia
Read: April 2019
Expected publication: out now
My Rating: πŸŒŸπŸŒŸπŸŒŸ

Book Description:

All Anna wants is to be able to sleep. But crushing insomnia, terrifying night terrors and memories of that terrible night are making it impossible. If only she didn’t feel so guilty…

To escape her past, Anna takes a job at a hotel on the remote Scottish island of Rum, but when seven guests join her, what started as a retreat from the world turns into a deadly nightmare.

Each of the guests have a secret but one of them is lying – about who they are and why they’re on the island. There’s a murderer staying in the Bay View hotel. And they’ve set their sights on Anna.

Seven strangers. Seven secrets. One deadly lie.

Someone’s going to sleep and never wake up…

My musings:

COVER LOVE! This book was a total cover love impulse read – just look at that spooky cabin in the mist. I knew I had to read it!

As for the cover’s promises of an atmospheric setting – yes, it totally delivers that! Set on the remote Scottish island of Rum (this is indeed a real place – I googled it and the pictures are amazing!), the story follows a more traditional “locked room” type mystery, with seven strangers trapped in a small hotel on the rugged island coast, cut off from civilisation by a terrible storm that rages around the house. As is the wont of mysteries, the visitors cannot just be run-of-the-mill middle-aged tourists who peacefully settle in front of the fire and play cards together to weather out the storm. No, of course there are some strange goings-on, and the possibility of a murderer amongst them, which has everyone on high alert. It doesn’t take long for all the dirty secrets come out in spectacular fashion and each character’s deepest darkest character flaws to be exposed.

Slater joins the line of authors I have read this year who have been trying to make their mark on this timeless theme. I must say that this setting was especially appealing to me, and I have put Rum on my travel list, murderous hikers notwithstanding. This island practically asked to be cast in this particular type of thriller!

What I am going to say now may reflect my general fatigue with mysteries and unusual twists at the moment, because some things worked for me, and others didn’t. Personally, I did not warm to Anna. It wasn’t for a lack of trying, because she has been through a truly horrible event, and I so wanted to reach out to her and feel her pain. That said, I thought the author did a great job in portraying her PTSD and guilt after the accident, so I’m not quite sure why she irritated me at times. In hindsight, none of the characters were particularly likeable, which is ok, given that each and every one of them is supposed to have the potential to be a vicious stalker. But oh boy, at times this read like a camp for the screwed up and dysfunctional! If the remote island really attracts bunches of those types of people, I may have to reconsider my travel plans.

When I reflect on novels that have really ratcheted up the tension, I find that mostly they didn’t rely on bunches of unlikeable characters doing crazy things and putting themselves in ridiculous situations. Rather, they relied on an undercurrent of menace so subtle that it snuck under the radar and quietly settled into my very soul, without even realising. Despite the implied danger to Anna, I never felt that sense of foreboding or menace here. It certainly didn’t keep me up at night, as the cover promised. I think the setting was a bit underused here, as it could have delivered all that and more all on its own! At times, the characters acted so crazily that I felt like getting out a prescription pad for a bunch of psych meds. And the ending just capped that feeling off for me – it was all just a bit too implausible for my liking, and some threads never fully came together for me.

As I said earlier, I am currently in a thriller reading slump, so take my words with a huge grain of salt. C.L. Taylor is a talented and popular author, who showcases her talent in creating this wonderful claustrophobic setting and has delivered a thriller that worked brilliantly for a majority of readers. If you like the genre, and enjoy a locked-room type mystery, than ignore me and definitely give this a go, knowing that a certain degree of suspension of disbelief is required.

Thank you to Netgalley and HarperCollins Australia for the free electronic copy of this novel and for giving me the opportunity to provide an honest review.

Tuesday 9 April 2019

Book Review: THE VAN APFEL GIRLS ARE GONE by Felicity McLean

Author: Felicity McLean
Publisher: Harper Collins Australia
Read: April 2019
Expected publication: out now

Book Description:

'We lost all three girls that summer. Let them slip away like the words of some half-remembered song and when one came back, she wasn't the one we were trying to recall to begin with.'

So begins Tikka Molloy's recounting of the summer of 1992 - the summer the Van Apfel sisters, Hannah, the beautiful Cordelia and Ruth - disappear.

Eleven and one-sixth years old, Tikka is the precocious narrator of this fabulously endearing coming-of-age story, set in an eerie Australian river valley suburb with an unexplained stench. The Van Apfel girls vanish from the valley during the school's 'Showstopper' concert, held at the outdoor amphitheatre by the river. While the search for the sisters unites the small community on Sydney's urban fringe, the mystery of their disappearance remains unsolved forever.

My musings:

WOW! Just wow! This was easily one of the best psychological thrillers I have read all year! It’s hard to believe that this is the author’s first foray into the mystery genre.

Tikka, who has been haunted by the disappearance of three childhood friends and neighbours, the “Van Apfel girls”, twenty years ago, returns to Australia to support her sister, who has recently been diagnosed with cancer. Coming back to her small hometown nestled into a narrow river valley out of Sydney brings back many suppressed memories, and she tries to piece together the events leading up to the tragedy, as seen through the eyes of her eleven-year-old self.

Let’s start with the characters: children characters can be so tricky! They are often either too old for their years, or too YA for the adult reader. But these girls were just perfect. They came to life for me as if I had watched them play in the pool, walk down the dusty hot road to school, bicker over their homework. I couldn’t get enough of them. Lately, I have talked a lot about the importance of showing rather than telling, and the author has nailed just that. It was all so vivid, so atmospheric. The small town, its small town politics and gossip, the heat, the flies, the MENACE that was running like a dark undercurrent through it all.

I think the power of this book lay in the things that were left unsaid as much as the things we did get shown. I appreciate that this can be frustrating for some readers who like things tied in neat little bows and tidily resolved at the end. This was not that type of book. But woah – what an emotional impact it had on me. Seen through the eyes of eleven-year-old Tikka, the mystery of the disappearance of the three Van Apfel sisters takes on a whole other dimension than your average thriller. Innocent girl’s eyes, seeing things that she cannot make sense of. Disturbing things. Things that made me gasp out loud and frantically turn the pages. This book really got under my skin!

I think I am rambling. It is impossible to tell you any more without giving something away, so I will leave it at that. Just to say that I absolutely loved every minute of this book. It is still on my mind, and I think it will be for some time yet. It utterly captivated me. I also really enjoyed the backdrop of a hot Aussie summer with the mystery of the disappearance of Azaria Chamberlain making headlines again. I adored Tikka’s voice, who tells the story from her memory of that long ago summer. I loved the eerie vibe and the menace that overshadowed the storyline, like the stench from the river Tikka describes so vividly. 


If you enjoy atmospheric Aussie mysteries, then I highly recommend picking this one up – it has everything I adore in a psychological thriller. I can see why this book has been compared to the old Australian classic Picnic at Hanging Rock, but even though there are some similarities (the mysterious disappearance of three girls, the eerie supernatural vibe of the landscape), this is a book that stands very firmly on its own feet and is quite unlike all of the others I have read this year so far. A definite five-star read for me, and one that I cannot recommend highly enough!

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Thank you to Harper Collins Australia for the free copy of this novel and for giving me the opportunity to provide an honest review.

Sunday 7 April 2019

Book Review: THE STILLWATER GIRLS by Minka Kent

Author: Minka Kent
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Read: April 2019
Expected publication: 9 April 2019
My Rating: πŸŒŸπŸŒŸπŸŒŸ

Book Description:

Ignorant of civilization and cautioned against its evils, nineteen-year-old Wren and her two sisters, Sage and Evie, were raised in off-the-grid isolation in a primitive cabin in upstate New York. When the youngest grows gravely ill, their mother leaves with the child to get help from a nearby town. And they never return.

As months pass, hope vanishes. Supplies are low. Livestock are dying. A brutal winter is bearing down. Then comes the stranger. He claims to be looking for the girls’ mother, and he’s not leaving without them.

To escape, Wren and her sister must break the rule they’ve grown up with: never go beyond the forest.

Past the thicket of dread, they come upon a house on the other side of the pines. This is where Wren and Sage must confront something more chilling than the unknowable. They’ll discover what’s been hidden from them, what they’re running from, and the secrets that have left them in the dark their entire lives.

My musings:

I remember when I first picked up Minka Kent’s THE MEMORY WATCHER and thought – wow! This is an author I will have to look out for! As I had hoped, Kent drew me in immediately with her latest story. There is something totally irresistible about a crazy survivalist theme, and as soon as we meet the two girls Sage and Wren alone in their primitive cabin in the woods, anxiously waiting for their mother to return, I was hooked!

The story initially rolls out in two very separate narratives. Here we have the two young girls in the woods, fearing for their lives, and on the other side there is Nicolette, a wealthy but unhappy housewife living in a large mansion at the edge of the forest who is suspecting her husband of cheating on her. How are these two storylines ever going to intersect? I had a few theories and suspicions, which was half of the fun of reading this interesting tale. Kent’s writing flows easily, her characters come to life on the page and the whole premise was thoroughly intriguing.

I will tell you now that in a million years and with all the crazy conspiracy theories in the world, and after a few bottles of wine and perhaps smoking some green stuff, I would have never been able to guess the final reveal of this one! I do appreciate the pressure on authors to come up with a new, original premise and that “killer twist” that makes it into the “twister hall of fame”. Sometimes it works, and other times it pushes the boundaries a bit too far. This one fell into the latter category for me, but everyone knows that I am terrible at suspending disbelief. I think I would have preferred a more ordinary, boring plot, because the characters alone were enough for me to be intriguing and engaging. My jaw actually dropped when the story took a hairpin turn and went into the land of the implausible plotline.

But let’s focus on the things I really enjoyed: Kent’s writing. It flowed easily and carried me along, with characters that were intriguing and rounded. I loved the survivalist theme and the clash of worlds as the girls are being confronted with the commodities of 21st century living after growing up in a primitive cabin in the woods without ever coming into contact with the outside world. I think that this theme could have been even more prominent and I would have devoured every page of it. Then there were the husband-wife dynamics between Nic and Brant. I disliked him and didn’t trust him - at all. There was something selfish and arrogant about this man who seemed to expect his wife to give up her life to support his career. There was great potential here also – all my emotions were fully engaged and on the side of the sisterhood!


All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed about 2/3 of this book until the bomb of implausibility dropped into the story and shattered my happy reading world. If you are a reader who prefers an evidence-based, traditional type of plot that ties up in a neat bow, then you may need to brace yourself and let go of that expectation. Readers that can shrug it off with “ah well, it’s fiction after all” will probably get much more out of this story than the doubting, eye-rolling Thomas that I am.

Thank you to Netgalley and Thomas & Mercer for the free electronic copy of this novel and for giving me the opportunity to provide an honest review. And for the Traveling Sisters Group for yet another great group read and discussion!

Book Review: BEFORE SHE WAS FOUND by Heather Gudenkauf

Author: Heather Gudenkauf
Publisher: Park Row
Read: April 2019
Expected publication: 16 April 2019
My Rating: πŸŒŸπŸŒŸπŸŒŸ3/4

Book Description:

For twelve-year-old Cora Landry and her friends Violet and Jordyn, it was supposed to be an ordinary sleepover--movies and Ouija and talking about boys. But when they decide to sneak out to go to the abandoned rail yard on the outskirts of town, little do they know that their innocent games will have dangerous consequences.

Later that night, Cora Landry is discovered on the tracks, bloody and clinging to life, her friends nowhere to be found. Soon their small rural town is thrust into a maelstrom. Who would want to hurt a young girl like Cora--and why? In an investigation that leaves no stone unturned, everyone is a suspect and no one can be trusted--not even those closest to Cora.

My musings:

I first fell in love with Gudenkauf’s writing when I was introduced to Amelia Winn in NOT A SOUND two years ago. Ever since then I have wanted to read more from this author, and was ecstatic to receive an ARC of her latest book for review – thank you, Park Row Publishing!

BEFORE SHE WAS FOUND starts off with a tragic scene: a twelve year old girl has been found unconscious and bleeding in an abandoned railway yard. Her friend is nearby, also covered in blood, appearing unharmed but severely traumatised. The third girl is nowhere to be found. All three were supposed to be at a friend sleep-over. What terrible thing has happened to these girls?

After the strong opening scene, the author uses different formats to skip back and forth between past and present to unravel the mystery. We hear from family members, a trauma therapist, journal entries and text messages exchanged between the girls. Slowly but surely, a picture of the complicated friendship dynamics between the girls and of the events leading up to the tragedy is forming. It is at this point that the author spices up the story with an urban legend that lends an additional air of menace and danger to the events of that night.

But even more disturbing is the way the girls interact with each other. Jordyn, the leader of the pack, is self-confident, popular and a cruel bully when she can’t have her way. Most of the time it’s Cora, the quiet introverted one that bears the brunt of Jordyn’s anger and becomes the butt of her jokes. But even worse, there are moments when Jordyn pretends to be Cora’s friend, only to betray her over and over again. Violet, cowed by Jordyn’s domineering nature, is often caught in the middle, afraid to stand up to Jordyn. Before Jordyn came into the picture, she was Cora’s best friend, but now she is more careful with her alliances. Be assured that this book will make all those high school memories come flooding back!

There are a lot of clues and red herrings scattered through the story, and of course I fell for the first dead end and followed it to the bitter finale before cottoning on that I had been duped. However, this was a fast and intriguing read and I was eager to find out the answers. Seeing how every single person in this book is very quick to tell lies in order to protect their own interests, solving the puzzle is not as easy as you may think. The final reveal was not at all what I expected, and I had to sit with it for a while to let it all digest. In hindsight, the author was very clever to use different media to lead us down the path to the conclusion, and all the hints are there, so the budding sleuth readers amongst us should take this as a challenge – can you solve the puzzle? Personally, I was not totally in love with the ending, but that’s how it goes, and many other readers will disagree with me on that point.

All in all, I hemmed and hawed over a rating and finally settled on 3.75 – yes, I am one of those annoying reviewers that can’t stick with the full points, but I will happily round it up to 4 for the entertaining, well written novel this ultimately turned out to be. I look forward to reading more from this author!

Thank you to Edelweiss and Park Row Books for the free electronic copy of this novel and for giving me the opportunity to provide an honest review. and to the Travelling Sisters Group for another great buddy read - I loved our discussion!

Wednesday 3 April 2019

Book Review: THE ICE BENEATH HER by Camilla Grebe

Author: Camilla Grebe
Read: March 2019

Book Description (Goodreads):

Winter’s chill has descended on Stockholm as police arrive at the scene of a shocking murder. An unidentified woman lies beheaded in a posh suburban home—a brutal crime made all the more disturbing by its uncanny resemblance to an unsolved killing ten years earlier. But this time there’s a suspect: the charismatic and controversial chain-store CEO Jesper Orre, who owns the home but is nowhere to be found.

To homicide detectives Peter Lindgren and Manfred Olsson, nothing about the suave, high-profile businessman—including a playboy reputation and rumors of financial misdeeds—suggests he conceals the dark heart and twisted mind of a cold-blooded killer. In search of a motive, Lindgren and Olsson turn to the brilliant criminal profiler Hanne Lagerlind-SchΓΆn. Once a valued police asset, now marooned in unhappy retirement and a crumbling marriage, she’s eager to exercise her keen skills again—and offer the detectives a window into the secret soul of Jesper Orre.

But they’re not the only ones searching. Two months before, Emma Bohman, a young clerk at Orre’s company, chanced to meet the charming chief executive, and romance swiftly bloomed. Almost as quickly as the passionate affair ignited, it was over when Orre inexplicably disappeared. One staggering misfortune after another followed, leaving Emma certain that her runaway lover was to blame and transforming her confusion and heartbreak into anger.

Now, pursuing the same mysterious man for different reasons, Emma and the police are destined to cross paths in a chilling dance of obsession, vengeance, madness, and love gone hellishly wrong. 

My musings:

I really love a slow, character driven psychological thriller that focuses on the human mind, which is what attracted me immediately to Camilla Grebe’s writing when I picked up SOME KIND OF PEACE earlier in the year. Since then, I have been eager to read more of her books, and am happy to report that I liked this one equally as much!

THE ICE BENEATH HER starts with a gruesome murder, like any good Scandinavian thriller should ;) A beheaded woman is found in the home prominent Stockholm businessman Jesper Orre. Her identity is unknown, and the homeowner is nowhere to be found. What makes it even more puzzling is that the murder bears an uncanny resemblance to another killing ten years ago, which has never been solved. Could these two murders be related? But what could possibly link the two victims? Without a motive and a suspect who has vanished off the face of the earth, homicide detectives are at a loss of where to start.

Grebe tells her story through three different POVs: there is homicide detective Peter Lindgren, who is a somewhat tormented soul with a bad track record of ill-fated relationships; criminal profiler Hanne Lagerlind-SchΓΆn, who is trapped in an unhappy marriage and an illness-enforced early retirement; and Emma Bohman, a store clerk whose romance with the murder suspect Jesper Orre has gone terribly wrong. As Peter and Hanne work together in the present to solve the murder, we first meet Emma in the weeks leading up to the killing, in which she tells her personal story. What unfolds is a simply brilliant story of love, madness and the dark corners of the human psyche.

With an uncanny insight into what makes people tick, and not afraid to showcase a bunch of flawed but enigmatic characters, Grebe has delivered an irresistible and compelling mystery that immediately drew me in and kept me interested to the end. I found myself drawn to each character equally, which is a difficult balance to achieve, but Grebe managed to bring so much backstory to her characters by just including snippets of memories and reflection that they all seemed like flesh and blood people to me. Each one of the three main players appears wounded and vulnerable in some way, which immediately made me warm to them despite their failings.

The mystery unravelled slowly, and each time a layer was peeled away, there was a new revelation that brought a new depth to the story, like a stack of intricately painted Russian dolls. And when you get right to the last one – BAM! Here it was, the totally unexpected. I loved it! There are a lot of thrillers out there, and it’s difficult to find one that totally surprises me, but Grebe not only pulled it off but also made me question my own sanity by the end of it, as I was coming up with wild and wonderful theories as to how this would all come together. And come together it did – beautifully.

I am happy to see that there are two more books to come in this series, as I was so taken by these characters that I would love to see what happens to them from here. There’s nothing better than discovering a book you love and finding out it’s the start of a series. If you love Scandinavian crime fiction as much as I do, then I urge you to give this one a go!