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Thriller Reviews

Looking for some Thriller Fiction? Check below for reviews of items that are available in our collections to borrow.

Have you read any books yourself recently? Love it or hate it, we'd love to hear about it! Submit a book review here.

‘The Nowhere Child’
by Christian White

"There is something fun about reading a book set in your own city, referencing locations and activities you can relate to in your daily life. This was the first thing I enjoyed about The Nowhere Child. However, from Coburg the action soon shifts to the United States as main character Kim Leamy investigates the possibility that she may really be Sammy Went, a two-year old child who disappeared from her home in Manson, Kentucky, 28 years ago. From the time Kim arrives in Kentucky, the story rapidly accelerates into a spiralling tale of trauma, cult, conspiracy, and memory in the vein of Gone Girl and Girl on a Train. If you enjoy this sort of twisty tale, switching between past and present, where every time you think you've got a handle on what's happening it changes, then The Nowhere Child is the book for you. A great escape read."

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‘My Sister, the Serial Killer’
by Oyinkan Braithwaite

"‘My Sister, the Serial Killer’ is the it book of the moment and it's easy to see why. A darkly funny tale for older siblings everywhere, perfectly expressing the catch 22 of the oldest whose job it is to keep the youngest perpetually out of trouble in the knowledge that should said younger sibling get themselves into a fix it will be all your… I mean ‘their’… fault for not having stopped them from doing the dumb thing in the first place. This book takes the familial ties that bind (victims), the love of family, even if they're not perfect, and how it overcomes all, even if they're a narcissist, sociopath, and serial killer. (Apologies to my brother)"

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‘Something in the Water’
by Catherine Steadman

"If you found a suitcase full of cash, would you keep it? This is the decision Erin and Mark have to make when they find a suitcase full of money during their honeymoon on Bora Bora. Thinking that no one will know they have it, what harm can it do? The following events in Something in the Water show how each decision we make, big and small, can change the course of our lives.

"Mark and Erin are a young British couple with a bright future ahead of them, until Mark loses his job. Mark's desperation causes cracks in their relationship. Erin tries to keep things together, but the choices she makes only seems to make things worse. After deciding to keep the suitcase, they will discover, this one decision will alter the course of their lives in ways they could never imagine. So, after reading this book, tell me, if you found a suitcase full of cash, would you keep it?"

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‘Her Last Secret’
by Barbara Copperthwaite

"This book takes everyday family secrets and screws the pressure tighter and tighter as it goes, spinning from one character to the next like a roulette wheel of people who might explode should their number come up. Copperthaite takes a fairly stereotypical cast of characters and, aside from some cursory and unconvincing attempts to give them depth, moves on to the novel's strength which is sheparding multiple storylines together as they hurtle toward a seemingly inevitable conclusion."

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‘The Woman Next Door’
by Caroline (Cass’ Green

"If Miss Marple, with all her nosey good naturedness, were to fracture and turn her hand to murder, you'd get something like Hester. All bustling practicality and prim decisiveness, she sweeps up her shell shocked neighbour whose life is spiraling out of control and starts laying out plans to cover their tracks in a way that becomes equal parts twisted and ridiculous. Do not underestimate the sweet little old lady. She knows your secrets and she has plans for you."

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‘Tell No One’
by Harlan Coben

"This is an excellent thriller. It does a great job as a page-turner as it sucks you into the story and you just want to know what happens next. It travels along at a rapid pace. I found myself trying to squeeze a few more pages in wherever I was. It was like going for a run on a frosty night and the conditions just encourage you to keep going faster.

"The story begins when David Beck makes his annual romantic pilgrimage with his wife Elizabeth back to the place where it all began for them, at an isolated lake in the countryside. They are attacked by unknown assailants and Beck is knocked unconscious in the water and Elizabeth disappears. A few days later a body is discovered that is identified as Elizabeth's and it bears the marks of a notorious serial killer who is soon captured and sentenced to death. Eight years later David is a successful doctor in NYC and he receives an email purporting to be from Elizabeth. It contains words that only had significance for the pair of them. Later a second email arrives that says, “They're watching. Tell no one.” Beck is distraught. Who has done this? Is Elizabeth really still alive or is a cruel somebody just jerking his chain? The book keeps switching between the first person narrative from Beck's point of view to the third person narrative and it does this very successfully.

"The book does have its faults. At one point the hero is simultaneously pursued by the Feds, the NYPD and the hideously fiendish bad guys in a plot scenario I've seen before. And he is rescued twice in extremely unlikely circumstances. It seemed like the author had painted the hero into a very tight plot corner and needed what amounted to silly magic to get him out of it. This novel won't change your life but it is very well told, suspenseful and unpredictable, even to the last page. There are more twists and turns than in Dusty Martin's bootlace and, like Dusty, it does a very good job indeed.

"It also makes for a very cinematic novel. While you are reading it, it feels very much like you are watching a film. Sure enough it has been turned into one but by the French, not Hollywood. (The DVD of the film version is also available at Kingston Library.) In the film, the action shifts from New York to Paris, but the plot remains largely the same. Harlan Coben even makes a cameo appearance in the film, and I recommend it too."

Not in catalogue. Suggest Item for Purchase

‘The Escape Room’
by Megan Goldwin

"Your goal is simple. Get out alive."

"Four high flying Wall Street financial advisors are called in to work on a Friday night to learn they are taking part in an escape room challenge. Not what they had in mind for the start of the weekend and they are more than a little annoyed. Their annoyance grows and then changes to fear as they find themselves trapped in an elevator. They realise the elevator is their Escape Room. A workplace entrenched in a bloodthirst drive for success backed by the lure of huge financial rewards can push individuals to the limits of morality.

"Just who is behind the escape room and will these four get out of the escape room alive keep you guessing long into the novel."

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‘The Cleaner’
by Paul Cleave

"This book recommended itself when I read an interview with the Australian author Jack Heath, who also writes crime. Heath said that it was so gruesome that when he read it on a plane he fainted and then was so ill he totally ruined the book. Paul Cleave heard about it and sent him a new, signed copy.

"The cleaner in this story is Joe who works in the headquarters of the Christchurch police. Everybody there thinks he is simple, innocent and helpful. But Joe is the smartest bloke in the room. When he's not scrubbing toilets, vacuuming floors or fetching coffee at work he is watching the detectives as they pursue the Christchurch Carver, a serial killer who they believe has used his lethal knives on seven victims. The police chew the fat with the amiable, childlike cleaner and let on to slow Joe that they have no real leads on the killer, after all Joe is harmless, right?

"No, Joe is the one they seek. Joe is an actor, he uses the access all areas ability to read case files and spy on the police who are chasing him. This, of course, puts him several steps ahead of his pursuers. Joe is piqued, however, when a murder is attributed to him that he did not commit. He nevertheless hatches a plan to find the killer of that victim and have them framed for the other six. So far so good for Joe but then he meets somebody who is apparently smarter and crueler than even him and what they can do with a pair of pliers is truly memorable.

"Despite its horror the book has its humorous patches such as Joe's descriptions of Christchurch which are a bit reminiscent of Barry Humphries' descriptions of Melbourne. The supporting characters are very well drawn, especially Joe's mother. The plot is well made and its twists are genuinely surprising. It was very enjoyable and as soon as I finished it I ordered the sequel."

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‘The Possessions’
by Sarah Flannery Murphy

"The Possessions is full of beautiful writing ‐ sharp imagery alternating with lyrically soft phrases blurring out and fading to the edges. This novel almost mirrors its protagonist, a woman who is trying to negate her own existence by taking on, for periods of time, the identities of people who have died, with a story that doesn't quite know what it wants to be. By turns compelling and suffocating, The Possessions doesn't quite manage to convey both the fog of a person who wishes to have no discernable characteristics of her own while maintaining the required clarity of purpose in the characters' motivations and the novel's plot. The writing is gorgeous though and an excellent debut, the author just needs the courage to make her characters, past evil deeds evil enough to make them a driving force of the novel."

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‘The Woman in the Window’
by A. J. Finn

"This book's film rights were sold before publication and it went to the top of the New York Times bestseller list, a rare event for a first-time author. And, in a development that must thrill the author and publisher, it has even rocketed to the top of the Kingston Libraries reservation list!

"The story centres on Anna Fox, 38, a child psychologist who lives in gentrifying section of New York. She is housebound, alone, and spends her days watching her neighbours, playing chess online, watching film noir, helping a few online clients and drinking a great deal of merlot. It soon becomes apparent that she has psychological issues herself as she suffers from agoraphobia and has not stepped outside her home in almost a year. She does, however, have a couple of regular visitors and a cat and she has rented the basement out to David, an enticing tradesman. As the mystery at the heart of the novel unfolds so do the reasons for Anna's mental condition.

"The book has numerous references to old films (it shares its title with one from 1944) and, as per James Stewart in Rear Window, she sees something very disturbing in her neighbour's house. Or did she? Anna also comes to see herself resembling Jimmy Stewart in Vertigo as she battles to work out what is going on.

"There are more twists and turns in the plot than in a roadmap of Canberra. It is very difficult to reveal more without giving away spoilers. There are many surprises in its excellent plot and none of the characters, including the protagonist, are what they appear to be. The denouement was very much unexpected (but, alas, not wholly convincing). The book is packed with short sentences, short paragraphs and short chapters making it easy to read and a truly pleasurable page-turner."

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‘The Last One’
by Alexandra Oliva

"The Last One is a perfect mix of survivalist reality TV drama and post-apocalyptic survival story. Dropped into a world where the boundaries between what is real and what is manufactured are erased, Zoo finds herself questioning just how far the producers will go to mess with her head. When catastrophe strikes in the real world the question is not what they will do for ratings, but if there is anyone at all left to watch. Survivor meets the Hunger Games crossed with The Walking Dead this book is one to read cover to cover in a single sitting."

Not in catalogue. Suggest Item for Purchase

‘Three Days and a Life’
by Pierre Lemaître

"In the small French village of Beauval, in December 1999, lived 12-year-old Antoine, a somewhat lonely child, who was being raised by his divorced mother. Antoine's neighbours are the Desmedts. The Desmedts have a dog, Ulysses, who is Antoine's firm companion, and young son Remi, who is 6 and worships Antoine. Lemaitre's portrait of the village and the villagers is superb. In Beauval everybody knows everybody else and everybody else's business (or they think they do).

"One day Ulysses is struck by a car and Antoine's life ricochets along a wholly unasked for and undeserved course. Under stress, Antoine commits a shocking act that he decides to keep secret and the novel follows how he lives with that secret. Should he own up to what he has done or should he lie low and hope it remains undiscovered? It is a bit reminiscent of the film Pyscho when the viewer and Norman Bates watch the car with the body in it start to sink into the swamp. Norman has done wrong but you want him to get away with it. The reader knows Antoine's crime but does not want him punished. The book is a study in psychological noir as Antoine records how the village reacts to the crime and how rumours spread and how the unpopular but innocent are accused. Antoine knows telling the truth will ease some others pain but, in a moral dilemma, severely hurt those he loves. This mental torture goes on until adulthood.

"Lemaitre is an excellent storyteller with a fluid writing style. The ending is unexpected and outstanding. It is a thoroughly good book."

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‘Prussian Blue’
by Philip Kerr

""Not that happiness meant anything anymore; it was just an idea for children, like God and birthday parties and Santa Claus." Welcome to the world of Bernie Gunther, a Berlin policeman with a conscience who finds himself forced to work for the Nazis before the war and then the Stasi after it. On 20 April 1939 Hitler will turn 50, but a few weeks before this happens Dr Karl Flex is shot dead by a sniper on the balcony of the Berghof, the Fuhrer's home in the Bavarian Alps. Gunther is called in to solve the crime by Reinhard Heydrich, head of the Gestapo who also wants him to dig up some dirt on Martin Bormann, Hitler's detestable private secretary.

"Prussian Blue is a police procedural that is also a history lesson. It works as a detective story that brings to cruel life the Third Reich. It gives fascinating descriptions of the politics and personalities of the times, such as Rudolph Hess: "Most people I knew thought that Hitler kept him around to make himself seem a bit more normal." And of a Nazi officer, "Major Hogl and the cold herring he called his personality joined me."

"This book encompasses two interwoven stories, one set in France in 1956 and one in Germany in 1939 and it makes for an absorbing page-turner. It makes you want to read more about the periods, places and people it describes and more of Bernie Gunther."

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‘Holy Spy’
by Rory Clements

"This book is two things at once, a historical thriller of the Babbington plot, the trap set by Francis Walsingham to ensnare Mary Queens of Scots in a treasonous plot to seize the English throne and thus ensure her own downfall and execution by a reluctant Elizabeth I and a mystery that at first glance appears to be a simple murder of a man by his avaricious new wife but slowly reveals ties to murky matters of state and deception at the highest level of government. This book is a great historical read although at times I felt like it was doing more than it needed to ‐ the Babbington plot alone would have provided more than enough drama without the need for a second mystery. It is well written and historically grounded, creating a nuanced portrayal of relationships across the theological divide in the years after the Reformation."

Not in catalogue. Suggest Item for Purchase

‘Maestra’
by L. S. Hilton

"This book ticks all the boxes for a good summer beach read ‐ and that's not to damn it with faint praise. The back cover blurb describes it as The Talented Mr Ripley meets Gone Girl and there are also the threads of To Catch A Thief and Sex and the City here as well. Some people have also included Fifty Shades of Grey as an influence because of its mind-bending and improbable sex scenes. The plot goes along at a fast pace and the book works as a page-turner ‐ you want to know what happens next.

"The hero is Judith Rashleigh, Oxford-educated, ambitious and quick witted. She is usually at least two steps ahead of the men in her life who try to demean her. She is employed on the lower rungs of a London art auction house and she discovers a dodgy deal is about to go down. For this she is sacked and this has the effect of severing any moral code she may have had. Judith heads for the continent unleashed, and goodness, does she make the most of her opportunities there. Judith loves to drop names ‐ of upper class hotels, designer clothes and accessories, drinks and restaurants but that's fun too. As the story develops she becomes more confident, more ruthless and an all-round self-empowered woman.

"Hilton's erudition is manifest in this book. It made me feel that the author was even more interesting than her novel and a Google search reinforces this. Hinton has previously written serious history books and even a libretto. She has written an enjoyable, escapist novel."

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‘The Curious Affair of the Somnambulist and the Psychic Thief’
by Lisa Tuttle

"The first in a new series this audiobook picks up with Miss Lane who having lately and abruptly departed the Society for Psychical Research on discovering evidence of fraud by one of their number finds herself in London and at a loss for what to do next. With her sensible insistence on the importance of rational thought as her recommendation she inquires for a position with a new consulting detective agency. Faced with a rash of disappearances with only one thing in common ‐ that all of the victims were mediums ‐ she is thrown back into the world of psychics and spirits, a world where rationality will not always get the job done.

"This is an enjoyable listen and I'm looking forward to the next book in the series. It is a solid beginning to a new series and shows promise to get better as the series finds its feet, although future installments would benefit from tighter plotting as several plot threads were introduced to move the story along but were not resolved by the end of the book. If you enjoy the Independent Victorian Lady Detective genre (I know I do) then this one is worth adding to your Borrowbox library."

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‘You’
by Caroline Kepnes

"This book is dark and creepy and compulsively readable. Every now and then I'd find myself rooting for a stalker as if Dexter had turned to a twisted version of romance rather than a twisted version of justice and then a single sentence would trip me up with its clarity and send me sprawling back into the reality of his frightening manipulations. This book has no sympathetic characters whatsoever, but it's the kind of thriller that is hard to put down, that you can greedily consume in a few days and then regret on the fourth day because now you have to start something new before you're really ready to let it go."

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‘The Sudden Appearance of Hope’
by Claire North

"This is a beautifully written book about a girl who, at the age of 16, slowly begins to disappear. People begin to forget her, teachers, friends and eventually even her family no longer recognise her. Soon every time Hope meets someone it is the first time. She becomes a thief out of necessity and boredom, baffling to the police because she is brazen and never tries to hide her identity during a crime. They can't understand it but nor can they catch her. One day Hope decides to make her life mean something by seeking to destroy the sinister lifestyle app Perfection which monitors every aspect of people's daily lives. Inadvertently setting in motion a violent and destructive chain of events Hope experiences a dawning realisation that only by acknowledging the consequences of one's actions and accepting accountability can there be freedom.

"Full of fascinating questions about the nature of identity, of how we define ourselves by the impressions we leave on those around us and what is left when you have no past, no future and no consequences, this book is like nothing I've read before."

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‘The Great Swindle’
Pierre Lemaître

"The Great Swindle by Pierre Lemaître won the Prix Goncourt, the premier French prize for literature in 2015. It tells the story of three French soldiers who are united by a horrible event in the dying days of World War I. Two of the three, Albert Maillard and Edouard Pericourt, return to a country that is ill at ease with the human wreckage that many of the survivors were. Edouard saved Albert's life on the battlefield but in so doing received a hideous wound. After the armistice Albert devotes himself to Edouard's care. The third, Henri d'Aulnay Pradelle, was their officer. Albert is a simple, diffident innocent with mother issues, Edouard a homosexual artiste with father issues, and Henri is a hairy but handsome aristocratic bounder.

"The plot thickens the longer the novel goes and you find yourself wanting to know what happens next ‐ the essence of a good read. Four stars from me."

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