The Switch by Beth O’Leary

This fun, light hearted book has lovely characters and a deeper meaning underneath the humour.

Leena is too young to feel stuck.
Eileen is too old to start over.
Ma
ybe it’s time for The Switch…
Ordered to take a two-month sabbatical after blowing a big presentation at work, Leena escapes to her grandmother Eileen’s house for some overdue rest. Newly single and about to turn eighty, Eileen would like a second chance at love. But her tiny Yorkshire village doesn’t offer many eligible gentlemen… So Leena proposes a solution: a two-month swap. Eileen can live in London and look for love, and L Leena will look after everything in rural Yorkshire.
But with a rabble of unruly OAPs to contend with, as well as the annoyingly perfect – and distractingly handsome – local schoolteacher, Leena learns that switching lives isn’t straightforward. Back in London, Eileen is a huge hit with her new neighbours, and with the online dating scene. But is her perfect match nearer to home than she first thought?

Firstly, the premise of this book alone is hilarious. When Leena and Eileen switch lives, it’s such a unique and ‘out there’ idea, but it sets the tone for the book to be a journey full of humour. I loved both women, they were funny, confident and caring in their own way. They contrasted each other but also clearly cared for and looked after each other.

The familial love is not the only kind of love here – this is a romance story and both women, whether they intend to or not, create other meaningful relationships during the switch. Eileen’s hilarious relationship with Leena’s friends and housemates when she moves to London had me chuckling at times. I loved her no-nonsense attitude and instinct to protect the younger adults. Her desire to have a true London adventure was both entertaining and unbearably sweet. She is a true young-at-heart person and some of the escapades she got up to were really funny. However, this was also about Eileen rediscovering what makes her happy and it was lovely to see her journey. I really liked the project she set herself in London (I don’t want to give too much away!) and her dating life was something I was really rooting for throughout.

Leena’s journey on the other hand, although less entertaining in a way, was equally as meaningful. From her relationship with her mum, dealing with grief, managing the village way of life and working out her relationship, Leena’s journey was full of ups and downs. I really felt for Leena, I so wanted her to succeed at everything and she was a character I connected with. I loved her determination at times, especially when it came to village matters. It was really funny, I have to admit, seeing her battle Betty and Archie. However it also proved that friendships are not set by ages and that actually some of the most meaningful friendships are inter-generational. Leena’s personal journey with grief however, contrasted sharply with the humorous moments in this book and there were times when it was truly heartbreaking. What this book highlighted is that grief shouldn’t be hidden away and that people can unite in their grief, turning memories into a positive thing.

The ending to this was delightful. Both women came to the end of their journey, and the end of the switch, stronger and happier. The message to pursue what makes you happy, in your romantic life, work life and friendships, is loud and clear. This book is inspiring and joyful, but it doesn’t shy away from the difficult moments. It’s an absolute must-read.

The Switch
Beth O’Leary
Quercus, 16th April 2020

The Babysitter by Phoebe Morgan

What a book…! Full of twists and turns, just when you think you have it all figured out, another curveball is thrown in!

On the hottest day of the year, Caroline Harvey is found dead in Suffolk. Her body is left draped over a cot – but the baby she was looking after is missing.  
Hundreds of miles away, Siobhan Dillon is on a luxurious family holiday in France when her husband, Callum, is arrested by French police on suspicion of murder.
As Siobhan’s perfect family is torn apart by the media in the nation’s frantic search for the missing baby, she desperately tries to piece together how Callum knew Caroline.
What happened that night? Was Caroline as innocent as she seemed – or was she hiding a secret of her own?

I’ll be honest, there were multiple times during this book that I was sure I’d got it all figured out. I was SO smug, sure that I’d outwitted Morgan and sussed out her plot… But of course, I was wrong. Her writing is so clever, subtly teasing the reader and leading them to think one thing, when all along she’s hiding the truth. I really loved this, and although I’ve loved Morgan’s first two books, this one truly got the better of me.

The premise of this book is actually really heartbreaking. Caroline, a woman desperate for love but also desperately lonely, is found dead after babysitting her friend’s baby. It’s a harrowing crime and one that leaves the reader desperate to know what’s happened right from the start. Morgan is clever though, and doesn’t throw this straight in at the first chapter, instead leading with Siobhan’s husband, Callum, being arrested. Highlighting Siobhan’s reaction and emotions instead of the family of the missing baby, cleverly subverts the reader’s expectations and the traditional viewpoint of the victim that’s often found in thrillers.

Straight from the start then, Morgan makes it clear that she’s not going to give us a book that uses traditional thriller tropes. The story focuses on Siobhan and her family, with occasional flashbacks to Caroline’s point of view that really work well to build the suspense further. There are some very clever reveals along the way, not too much so that the reader is overwhelmed but enough to keep us well and truly gripped. Each character is quite hard to read but there’s enough to make the reader feel sympathetic towards the horrifying situation they are in.

Towards the end, suspicion definitely starts to creep in, but Morgan doesn’t allow enough time for the reader to settle in to their suspicions before the ending really builds. It’s fast-paced, thrilling and I was left feeling really satisfied with the conclusion. This was an excellent, gripping thriller and one I would seriously recommend.

The Babysitter
Phoebe Morgan
HQ, 28th May 2020

BLOG TOUR: Dark Waters by G. R. Halliday

This seriously chilling crime novel will not be one you forget, with it’s gripping plot and likeable lead detective.

THREE MISTAKES. TWO MURDERS. ONE MORE VICTIM TO GO . . .Annabelle has come to the Scottish Highlands to escape. But as she speeds along a deserted mountain road, she is suddenly forced to swerve. The next thing she remembers is waking up in a dark, damp room. A voice from the corner of the room says ‘The Doctor will be here soon’.
Scott is camping alone in the Scottish woodlands when he hears a scream. He starts to run in fear of his life. Scott is never seen again.
Meanwhile DI Monica Kennedy has been called to her first Serious Crimes case in six months – a dismembered body has been discovered, abandoned in a dam. Days later, when another victim surfaces, Monica knows she is on the hunt for a ruthless killer.
But as she begins to close in on the murderer, her own dark past isn’t far behind …

Seriously, I cannot emphasise enough how deliciously creepy this is! This plot took a turn that I was certainly not expecting and it honestly sent shivers down my spine at times. Halliday’s books are certainly different to any other police series I’ve read in a while and you definitely won’t forget them in a hurry. The reader feels such horror and empathy for Annabelle that you can’t tear your eyes from the page until you know what’s happening. It’s gripping, spine-tingling and a truly original plot.

Monica is again a brilliant character and definitely a force to be reckoned with. Her determination gains the support of the reader the whole way through and she’s a fantastic and engaging character. I was urging her on the whole way through, knowing she would get there but feeling increasingly concerned for Annabelle’s fate – the fact that I couldn’t put this down demonstrates Halliday’s brilliant writing.

As the plot builds it gets more and more creepy and while I thought Halliday’s first book in this series was different, this one certainly is. It’s not necessarily one for the faint-hearted but I loved it. The writing truly is excellent and at times could send a shiver down my spine. Each character is well thought out and adds something to the story – they all have a purpose whether it’s contributing to the creepiness or helping Monica get to the heart of Annabelle’s disappearance.

I enjoyed every second of this and would highly recommend for those of you that want a truly gritty and gripping detective series. If you haven’t read the first one I would highly recommend it but if not you will still definitely enjoy this one!

Dark Waters
G. R. Halliday
Harvill Secker, 16th July 2020

BLOG TOUR: From the Shadows by G. R. Halliday

This is the ultimate creepy, spine-tingling detective series that will keep you guessing the whole way through.

Seven days. Four deaths. One chance to catch a killer.
Sixteen-year-old Robert arrives home late. Without a word to his dad, he goes up to his bedroom. Robert is never seen alive again.
A body is soon found on the coast of the Scottish Highlands. Detective Inspector Monica Kennedy stands by the victim in this starkly beautiful and remote landscape. Instinct tells her the case won’t begin and end with this one death.
Meanwhile, Inverness-based social worker Michael Bach is worried about one of his clients whose last correspondence was a single ambiguous text message; Nichol Morgan has been missing for seven days.
As Monica is faced with catching a murderer who has been meticulously watching and waiting, Michael keeps searching for Nichol, desperate to find him before the killer claims another victim.

I thought that Monica was a great lead detective, with her commanding confidence and gut instinct that even the reader trusts. I did feel perhaps that there was too much focus on her height, but other than that she was an extremely likeable and strong character. She was patient, independently confident, but also a caring and very relatable person.

The mystery is gripping and chilling right from the start. When Robert disappears we see his perspective for a while and honestly it’s slightly terrifying, but it made me want to keep reading as I just had to understand what was happening. It’s the perfect balance between intriguing and spooky, so it kept me hooked the whole way through.

Introducing another character, Michael Bach, was another really clever aspect. His determination to find out what happened to his client Nichol perfectly complemented Monica’s gut instinct and patient investigation. It was clear to me throughout that there was some sort of link, but Halliday refuses to give too much away and keeps us guessing throughout.

The plot builds extremely well – it gets more and more fascinating throughout and it’s very hard to predict. I also liked this as it’s unusual compared to a lot of other detective novels you might read – the conclusion is not necessarily like your typical murder novel, and once you read this you’ll know what I mean!

This book was gritty, captivating, sometimes horrifying and chilling throughout. It’s clever and unique plot is a brilliant contrast to other detective series that sometimes fall prey to the same tropes and I do love Monica as the lead detective. I’d 100% recommend this.

From the Shadows
G. R. Halliday
Vintage, 18th April 2019

Keep Him Close by Emily Koch

Experiencing the same event from two points of view, this books pulls at the heartstrings of the reader with an excellently written crime at the centre of everything.

ONE SON LIED. ONE SON DIED.
Alice’s son is dead. Indigo’s son is accused of murder.
Indigo is determined to prove her beloved Kane is innocent. Searching for evidence, she is helped by a kind stranger who takes an interest in her situation. Little does she know that her new friend has her own agenda.
Alice can’t tell Indigo who she really is. She wants to understand why her son was killed – and she needs to make sure that Indigo’s efforts to free Kane don’t put her remaining family at risk. But how long will it take for Indigo to discover her identity? And what other secrets will come out as she digs deeper?
No one knows a son like his mother. But neither Alice nor Indigo know the whole truth about their boys, and what happened between them on that fateful night.

Alice and Indigo offer different sides of the same tragedy – one’s son confesses to murdering the other. It’s devastating for both women and this story follows the impact this crime has on both of them. It combines all the best bits of the drama and crime genres, with an element of psychological investigation incorporated as well.

Alice’s uptight, unemotional reaction is hard to connect to at times, but Indigo’s out-of-touch nature is just as alien in some ways, so it’s fascinating for the reader to watch how these two unusual women cope with what’s happening around them. The plot soon turns from the tragedy of the death of one of the boys, to solving the mystery of what really happened on that night.

It’s not an overly fast-paced novel, but it works because of that. What is left is plenty of time to investigate the emotions of the two women and delve into their different personalities and characters. It’s a wonderfully written psychological investigation, with powerful and touching emotions being demonstrated throughout from both women. I felt that Koch incorporated brilliant elements of toughness, devastation, genuine sadness and a touch of female independent strength.

For a novel that has drama, intrigue, mystery and plenty of emotion, this is the book you need. It really is fascinating and the mystery is more than enough to keep the reader hooked by itself so the emotional investigation is an added bonus that made me feel more connected to the characters.

Keep Him Close
Emily Koch
Vintage, 19th March 2020

The Holdout by Graham Moore

This book had a brilliant concept, strong characters and a very engaging way of writing.

One juror changed the verdict. What if she was wrong?
‘Ten years ago we made a decision together…’
Fifteen-year-old Jessica Silver, heiress to a billion-dollar fortune, vanishes on her way home from school. Her teacher, Bobby Nock, is the prime suspect. It’s an open and shut case for the prosecution, and a quick conviction seems all but guaranteed.
Until Maya Seale, a young woman on the jury, persuades the rest of the jurors to vote not guilty: a controversial decision that will change all of their lives forever.
Ten years later, one of the jurors is found dead, and Maya is the prime suspect.
The real killer could be any of the other ten jurors. Is Maya being forced to pay the price for her decision all those years ago?

What I loved about this was the way the chapters focused on Maya, but divided it up by going back ten years ago with each divide focusing on a different juror. Gradually throughout the book we got to see the thoughts of each juror and why they voted ‘Not Guilty’. It was so fascinating to see and I really liked this view into the minds of each juror.

This was a very fast-paced book, with the plot moving quickly and the writing easy to follow. I love it when a book is easy to read, it makes it easier for me to engage with the story and stayed hooked on the book. This was one of those books, it was clear and concise, descriptive when needed and really kept me gripped. The chapters are also clearly titled so I always knew who was at the centre of which chapter and which year we were in, so it was just excellently written.

The plot itself was also fantastic. It really investigated the moral roles of the jurors involved and how they had been affected by their decision to rule ‘Not Guilty’. Maya, the main character, was very self aware throughout and able to dissect her feelings so the reader can easily feel connected to her. I was with Maya the whole way through, urging her to find out the truth and discover what happened, frustrated when she struggled and elated when she uncovered more and more. It was up and down throughout and I was kept guessing right until the end.

The ending was a surprise but I think it was always going to be because of how the plot worked. The constant back and forth meant that it was easy to follow but hard to get close to any character other than Maya so I wasn’t able to guess who was at fault. The moral side of this book was excellently written, with no black and white answer available. Every person has their own moral limit and this book highlighted this very clearly.

I loved this, it was such a great book and so brilliantly written. The characters were all excellent, the plot different and unique and the pace was perfect.

The Holdout
Graham Moore
Orion, 18th Feb 2020

Grace is Gone by Emily Elgar

This is such a gripping book, with characters that aren’t what you expect them to be and a story that’s genuinely quite horrifying at times.

Meg and her daughter Grace are the most beloved family in Ashford, the lynchpin that holds the community together.
So when Meg is found brutally murdered and her daughter missing, the town is rocked by the crime. Not least because Grace has been sick for years – and may only have days to live.
Who would murder a mother who sacrificed everything, and take a teenager away from the medication that could save her life? Everyone is searching for an answer, but sometimes the truth can kill you . . .

If anyone knows what real-life story this book is based on, then you’ll know roughly what to expect from this. If not, you’re in for a great read! This book is definitely not what you expect, with a brilliant hook that just builds the suspense throughout.

The characters in this are really varied, from Cara to Jon, who are determined to uncover the truth, to Grace herself, and all the others who become involved throughout. I felt like I was able to engage with all of them and that they all brought something to the story. Each person added a layer of mystery and intrigue and I loved how it all came together to add to the final story.

I think that the general pace of this was great, perhaps as I realised what was happening early on I kind of knew what to expect so was waiting for the reveal but the writing was excellent so this didn’t matter too much. It was the bit after the reveal that I was looking forward to and it was fast-paced, full of action with some really chilling moments.

This book is also a great examination of moral obligation, with feelings of guilt running the whole way throughout the story. It really looks deeply into how the other characters feel about Grace and her story and the way they feel about their own role in it. It’s fascinating at times and this is the element of the book that I really enjoyed. It’s a great book, but where the excellence really lies is in the investigation into the morals and feelings of the characters involved. I’d definitely recommend this as a chilling, character-driven book.

Grace is Gone
Emily Elgar
Sphere, 20th Feb 2020

BLOG TOUR: Conviction by Denise Mina

This is unique, chilling and fascinating thriller, with a strong and independent female lead who I absolutely loved.

It’s just a normal morning when Anna’s husband announces that he’s leaving her for her best friend and taking their two daughters with him.
With her safe, comfortable world shattered, Anna distracts herself with someone else’s story: a true-crime podcast. That is until she recognises the name of one of the victims and becomes convinced that only she knows what really happened.
With nothing left to lose, she throws herself into investigating the case. But little does she know, Anna’s past and present lives are about to collide, sending everything she has worked so hard to achieve into freefall.

The style of writing in this book is so unique, it drew me in right from the start. It’s blunt, bizarrely honest and at times feels fragmented when it follows Anna’s real-time thoughts, but I loved it. It was different, but the slightly jarring effect was actually very captivating. It was this that hooked me in to this book before the plot even got going.

What drew me to this book in the first place was the concept of the podcast being the catalyst. The way this was executed within the book was excellent, as the plot didn’t rely too heavily on the podcast but used it as very gripping starting point. Mina gave just enough of a link between the podcast and Anna to keep me curious throughout, without giving away too many of the precise details as to why they were linked. The tension just kept building, and even though the story was a little bit out there, it was just fantastic. The way it was written from Anna’s blunt and unapologetic perspective made it so believable that I never stopped to question what was happening, I just enjoyed reading it.

As we got nearer to the end I was honestly starting to wonder if we were ever going to find out the truth – Mina kept it going right up until the very end. Surprisingly it didn’t drag at all, and instead I found myself desperately turning the pages as I had to find out what happened. I was genuinely shocked, and although I don’t want to give too much away, I will say that this was one of those endings where it just crept up on me and I was left totally shocked. The way that Mina writes keeps the reader totally focused on the main thread of the story, leaving you blind-sided when she reveals something that should have been obvious.

I honestly absolutely loved this. It was deliciously creepy, twisty throughout and full of suspense with a very strong female lead character. If this isn’t on your list to read, it should be now.

Conviction
Denise Mina
Vintage, 20th February 2020

The One Who Got Away by L.A. Detwiler

This is one of the most genuinely chilling thrillers I’ve read in a while, with a compelling and likeable character and terrifying flashbacks into the mind of a killer.

“Get out while you can. You’ll die here…”
Adeline Evans has recently moved into a home for the elderly. A safe space, where she can be cared for.
When she begins to receive cryptic and threatening notes, she is certain that someone is out to get her.
But the residents are warned against listening to a woman who is losing her memory. It would seem Adeline is tormented by the secrets in her past, and that the menace is all in her mind.
Until danger comes down the corridor and starts knocking in the night…

This begins with Adeline moving into a home and almost instantly her emotions are right on the surface for the reader to feel. It’s easy to feel empathy for her and to understand how she is coping with the move, which is mainly due to Detwiler’s brilliant and emotive writing. Adeline is a likeable main character, but her past remains pretty mysterious to the reader almost the entire novel.

Although the story begins in 2019, there are regular flashbacks to 1959. In this time period we see the perspective of both Adeline and the killer. These chapters are where the novel gets seriously interesting and chilling. The insights into the mind of the killer are twisted and very cleverly written. The creepy level of obsession is frightening even for the reader. Soon however, this seems to start to blend into the present day, with Adeline receiving threatening notes and messages. There are genuinely chilling moments and I was totally hooked throughout.

What I liked was that there are lots of clues throughout, hinting at various suspects but never quite revealing the answer. It kept me engaged in trying to figure it out and at times I was convinced I’d found certain answers or reveals. The suspense just keeps on building and by the end I was glued to the page. It’s a brilliant ending and while I don’t want to give too much away, it didn’t end how I expected it to – Detwiler manages to twist the genre expectation expertly, with the ending definitely holding at least one surprise for the reader.

All the way throughout this novel I felt both the characters and the plot were excellent – chilling, full of twists and suspense, and the perfect pace of action. If you need a new thriller author, then this is the one for you.

The One That Got Away
L.A. Detwiler
One More Chapter, 19th February 2020

The Neighbours by Nicola Gill

This is such a cute, feel-good story, that everyone who likes strong and funny characters will enjoy. Warning – spoilers in the review below

Meet Ginny, 34, and Cassie, 55. Neighbours, and (very) unlikely friends.
Some women have it all. Others are thirty-four and rent a tiny flat alone because they recently found their long-term boyfriend in bed with their boss. Ginny Taylor is certain her life can’t get any worse. But then she meets her downstairs neighbour…
Cassie Frost was once a beloved actress, but after a recent mishap she desperately needs a new publicist. And Ginny is a publicist who desperately needs a job – but can she be persuaded to work for the prickly woman who lives below her floorboards?
Ginny and Cassie are two very different women, but they have more in common than they’d care to imagine (or admit). And when their worlds collide, they realise that bad neighbours could become good friends…

This is such an amusing, and in some ways lighthearted book, that everyone would enjoy. The two characters, Ginny and Cassie, are such an excellent pairing and they compliment each other perfectly. I found them really funny at times but other times it was very touching. The way that the two women come together at the beginning is really sweet – neither one is totally happy, and they’re both going through what could be called a rough patch. This is what bonds them and some of the things they get up to together are really hilarious and relatable. I loved seeing them progress and change together, but it was also heartbreaking at times to watch them go through difficult times.

This book really helps the reader connect with the characters, I felt really bonded them and this meant that the story held a lot more emotion than normal. I was with Ginny and Cassie through all the good and bad bits and so I was hooked throughout. This book is special because it takes issues or experiences that the reader can relate to and manages to express those emotions really well, while also injecting a little bit of comedy to lift the tone when needed. I thought it was done very tastefully and really would recommend this to anyone who wants to read something that tackles topics like mental health, love and friendship in a way that’s very easy to read and follow.

The way that Ginny dealt with Cassie’s depression later on in the book was very human and real – it wasn’t perfect by any means, but that’s what made it realistic. There were times when Ginny handled things badly, but the effort was made to point out why it was unhelpful and how she could do better. I thought this aspect of the book was great and made it really emotional at times. There are events that are difficult to read, and so perhaps for this reason I would say there’s a content warning for mental health, but I really thought it was done well, considering the genre of this book. Despite the comedic moments, there are times when this book has elements of such piercing honesty and seriousness, that it almost took me by surprise. Cassie’s good and bad days are written in such an honest and straightforward way that it definitely has an element of real-ness to it that makes it very readable.

The actual story is also excellent, it has the right amount of ups and downs, with a dash of comedy and a bit of heartbreak, but that’s why it works so well. The ending was wonderful, I finished the book feeling very satisfied and happy, which is exactly how I wanted to feel. After a rocky journey, I was left feeling genuinely delighted for both women and was really sad to finish this. This is a definite must-read for me as I loved every second.

The Neighbours
Nicola Gill
Avon, 6th Feb 2020

BLOG TOUR: The Day That Changed Everything by Catherine Miller

This is a heart-warming and emotional story exploring the meaning of family and motherhood.

When you lose the love of your life, how do you find yourself again?For Tabitha, the day that changed everything started like any other.
She woke up, slid her feet into fluffy slippers, wrapped herself in a dressing gown and tiptoed out of her bedroom, leaving her husband Andy sleeping. Downstairs, she boiled the kettle and enjoyed a cup of tea as the sun rose.
Upstairs, Andy’s alarm sounded, and Tabitha took him a freshly brewed coffee, like every other morning. Except today, the incessant beeping rang out and her husband hadn’t stirred. She called his name, she nudged his shoulder. But Andy wouldn’t wake up.
Three years later Tabitha is trying her hardest to get by in the shadow of her grief. She may have lost the love of her life but she won’t give up on the family they dreamed of. Fostering troublesome teenage girls and a newborn baby is a chance to piece together her broken heart.
But being a mother isn’t easy, and neither is healing the heartache she carries around. After losing everything, could saving these three children help Tabitha save herself too?

I really enjoyed how this book explores the meaning and importance of family through the eyes of Tabitha and the girls she fosters. Tabitha herself is the key to this story, starting from the devastating moment she discovers her husband has died. It’s truly heartbreaking and the emotion pours out the page. The story flashes back and forward between two timelines. It focuses on the time directly after her husband’s death and a couple of years after when she starts fostering. It gives the reader a better idea of her character development and allows us to really connect with Tabitha as we see her progress.

The writing throughout is really beautiful at times, but it’s what I’d expect from Miller, who’s novel 99 Days With You I absolutely adored. It’s emotive, passionate, devastating at times and she writes everything that Tabitha feels so well. It’s a brilliant exploration into human emotions.

The two teenagers that Tabitha fosters, Syd and Max, are an excellent addition to Tabitha’s life. They are funny, stroppy, typical teenagers, but they are also genuinely struggling with their own emotions and experiences. The way that Miller manages to get this across without writing from the perspective of the twins is truly excellent.

This is a book less about a dramatic storyline and more about the characters and themes. I would highly recommend this for someone who wants to lose themselves in a character-driven, emotional and well-written book.

The Day That Changed Everything
Catherine Miller
Bookouture, 17th Jan 2020

The Perfect Sister by Sheryl Browne

This was a gripping psychological thriller, with characters that were hard to predict and left the reader guessing until the end.

Claire always wished for a sister. But should you be careful what you wish for?
Claire has spent her whole marriage trying to be the perfect wife and mother – supporting her husband as he goes for promotions and always making sure she’s there to tuck her daughter into bed each night. But little does she know that almost everyone around her has been keeping secrets that could ruin the life she’s worked so hard to create.
Growing up with warring parents and an often absent father, Claire has always wanted to give her daughter Ella the dream childhood she wishes she’d had. So, when she discovers her husband Luke has been having an affair, Claire is left wondering how she can possibly keep her daughter’s world from crumbling.

Then Claire receives a text message from someone called Sophie that simply reads – ‘You don’t know me, but I’m your sister’. At first, she’s shocked. And Sophie’s appearance raises questions Claire would like to put to her elderly father before it’s too late. But as she gets to know Sophie – who is so like her in so many ways – she can’t help but be delighted to finally have the sibling she always dreamed of.
As the two women become inseparable, Claire leans on her new sister more and more, ultimately asking her to move into the family home and trusting her with Ella. But when the unthinkable happens and Claire fears for her daughter’s life, she starts to wonder whether her new sister is exactly who she says she is.
One thing Claire knows is that telling the perfect lie seems to run in the family.

I really enjoyed this – right from the start Claire was difficult to read. Despite most of the chapters being from her perspective, I constantly felt as if there was something about her being hidden. She was intriguing and it hooked me from the start. Although most of the chapters are from her perspective, we do get some from her husband Luke, her half-sister Sophie and a couple of others, which makes it absolutely fascinating as we get to see glimpses, but not too much, into the thought processes of the other characters.

There are mysteries in this book right from the beginning – everyone seems to be keeping some kind of secret, whether it’s big or small. It’s really clever as it stops the reader from guessing too much about the plot and kept me hooked throughout. Sophie is particularly fascinating and the chapters from her perspective don’t make it much clearer. She does seem suspicious throughout and I loved the way that Browne wrote her without giving too much away.

It’s a fairly fast-paced plot and the odd chapter that is from someone else’s view, such as Claire’s father or her best friend, helps to keep the pace moving even more. It breaks up in a way that builds the intrigue without disturbing the flow of the book.

Sheryl Browne’s books are always great, but if you want a really gripping psychological thriller, then this is the one for you without a doubt.

Family Secret
Sheryl Browne
Bookouture, 29th Jan 2020