Gnomon by Nick Harkaway

“She is just hours from her first meeting with weird, cartilaginous Lönnrot, just over a week from her loss of faith in everything she has believed in her life.”

An epic read and not for those who want an easy, quick read. It took me a couple of weeks to read it completely, though I wasn’t taking big reading sessions.

It was a story that unfolds in your mind as you think back over it. Which is a bit scary as that is exactly what is happening in Inspector Mielikki Neith’s head as she works through the Gnomon case.

In order to work the case, Mielikki takes the evidence (which is in effect a brain trawl) into her own brain. It then unfolds and Mielikki is able to view and experience the trawl in order to determine the guilt or otherwise (and in this instance it is not clear) of the subject.

The book has many protagonists, and sometimes I found it hard to work out when a switch between them took place. It is a complex story, probably because the brain is very complex. And somehow this complexity was necessary to the tale to give it its depth. At points I wondered where it was all going, but I think in the end it was proven appropriate. And the end is true!

I was able to get lost in the story, it was helpful during a time of duress for me. It gave me relief and I escaped into Mielikki’s life and the lives of those around and in her.

For some people this book may take a bit of getting into, but give it a chance, you may find it becomes quite compelling, and provokes quite a bit of thought.

I received an e-ARC of this novel through NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. NetGalley does not allow for paid reviews.

4/5 Stars (What this means…five-stars-applied-carefully)

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In a near-future Britain, a distributed surveillance-democracy called The System knows everything you, and can even spy on your mind. It’s a Panopticon country. But when state investigators then look into the head of a refusenik novelist named Diana Hunter, what they find there is not her life story but that of four other people, spread across thousands of years, all vibrantly real and each utterly impossible – and before they can unravel that puzzle, Diana Hunter, shockingly, dies as a result of the investigation, an unheard of result in a perfect system which protects everyone from harm.
That’s where Inspector Mielikki Neith comes in, a staunch believer in The System who is assigned to investigate the Hunter case. The only problem is that the teasing mysteries in the dead woman’s mind may change all that. And these are extraordinary memories, ranging from the life of a banker named Constantine Kyriakos, who finds himself pursued by a shark that may in fact be a god; and an Ethiopian retired pop artist, Berihun Bekele, who picks up his brushes to create a virtual world called The System at the behest of his games’ designer grand-daughter; and Athenaïs Karthagonensis, the jilted lover of one of the Church’s most beloved saints, who seeks to resurrect her dead son with the help of a non-existent miracle; and then finally GNOMON, the acerbic post-human who is plotting to assassinate the next iteration of the Universe . . .
The question is whether there is a truth hidden in the noise of all those lives, as Mielikki begins to suspect?
Or is all that unfolding experience and drama simply a cover for some kind of attack upon the fabric of the most democratic nation state ever constructed?
And the questions just keep coming. Who was Diana Hunter, and why are her books impossible to obtain? And above all, was Diana Hunter innocent all along – worse, could she have been correct to attempt to withstand a perfect, democratic system?

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Elmet by Fiona Mozley

“The beads of water on his face and hair glistened in the crude light from an oil lamp that sat upon the kitchen table and a kind of halo emerged around him as he relaxed each muscle in his body save those in his cheeks that tempted a satisfied smile from his plumped lips. I selected and unfolded a towel from the pile we aired near the stove and rubbed the crisp fabric against Daddy’s wet skin. He moaned with sedate pleasure.”

This book is a well written descriptive of the lives of three individuals who reside in an area called Elmet. They do not own the land on which they have built their home, but feel a connection to the land on which they live.
Daniel, Cathy and their Daddy are free spirits living a natural life in tune with nature.
But there are those that want something from them and those people intend to ensure that they get their own way.
Daniel is narrating the tale so everything is from his view. He describes his relationship with both his father and his sister, as well as the people in the surrounding area.
Some locals want to get all that they can from the small family and Daniel tells the story of how they all interact with each other. Finally coming to the end, where his story started. Full of sadness, violence, love, hope and despair.
This was a very detailed, involving story and I did get very engrossed with it. However, I did find that it was somewhat skimpy in how it portrayed some aspects of the tale and felt it left me wanting, particularly in the ‘italics’ part of the story. Nonetheless, overall I enjoyed reading it and read it very quickly and intensively, as it was an engaging read.
A good first novel and happy to see a local author nominated for the man booker prize.

I received an e-ARC of this novel through NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. NetGalley does not allow for paid reviews.

3/5 Stars (What this means…five-stars-applied-carefully)

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Official description:
SHORTLISTED FOR THE MAN BOOKER PRIZE 2017
Fresh and distinctive writing from an exciting new voice in fiction, Elmet is an unforgettable novel about family, as well as a beautiful meditation on landscape.
Daniel is heading north. He is looking for someone. The simplicity of his early life with Daddy and Cathy has turned sour and fearful. They lived apart in the house that Daddy built for them with his bare hands. They foraged and hunted. When they were younger, Daniel and Cathy had gone to school. But they were not like the other children then, and they were even less like them now. Sometimes Daddy disappeared, and would return with a rage in his eyes. But when he was at home he was at peace. He told them that the little copse in Elmet was theirs alone. But that wasn’t true. Local men, greedy and watchful, began to circle like vultures. All the while, the terrible violence in Daddy grew.
Atmospheric and unsettling, Elmet is a lyrical commentary on contemporary society and one family’s precarious place in it, as well as an exploration of how deep the bond between father and child can go.

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The Darkness Within by Lisa Stone 

“It was always worse when he’d had a beer or two. That Feeling. Hot, urgent and raw, tearing through him. Making him restless, argumentative. Angry. It was as though something or someone took control of him, forcing him to act badly, to be nasty and cruel.”

This is a story about a transplant patient, who starts to exhibit different characteristics than his normal ones. Is it his donors organ changing him, or did he always have a propensity to do that which he now does?

Jacob receives a new heart, even as he is coming round his character has changed, he swears, thinks little of women. Once home his family are grateful for his reprieve and do not immediately take in his changes.
Meanwhile his donor’s girlfriend has moved on and is living a happier life as a singleton, while keeping her job in a local bank. She hasn’t told anyone about how her previous relationship was and is taking life one day at a time.

As the story moves forward Jacob’s character changes ever more profoundly and his mother starts to feel concern. She starts to seek help for her son, always wondering whether it is the new heart or the way Jacob was brought up.

The ending is tense and fast paced, I was speed reading to see what the outcome would be for the individual characters. Would any of them be brave enough to solve the matter?

This was a cracking story, different than many others. It explores the idea of memory within donated organs being assimilated by the host bodies. Totally fascinating!

I received an e-ARC of this novel through NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. NetGalley does not allow for paid reviews.

3/5 Stars (What this means…five-stars-applied-carefully)

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A gripping new thriller debut that asks the question, how deep in our hearts does evil lie?

When critically ill Jacob Wilson is given a life-saving heart transplant, his parents are relieved that their loving son has been saved.

However, before long, his family are forced to accept that something has changed in Jacob. Their once loving son is slowly being replaced by a violent man whose mood swings leave them terrified – but is it their fault?

Jacob’s girlfriend, Rosie, is convinced the man she loves is suffering from stress. But when his moods turn on her, she begins to doubt herself – and she can only hide the bruises for so long.

When a terrible crime is committed, Jacob’s family are forced to confront their darkest fears. Has the boy they raised become a monster? Or is someone else to blame?

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A Child Made to Order by Piotr Ryczko

“After all, she had the tendency to forget one simple fact: She was at Aftenposten on separate terms than most. She was the daughter of the chief editor. Maybe it was time to curb her gullibility.”

I figured this book would be a thriller-mystery type book, with some sleuthing from the main character to draw out the story.

The story was actually very deep, with many facets to it. The main character is Viola, a journalist on a family newspaper, her family’s newspaper. She is about to become the Middle East correspondent for that same paper as we join Viola at her celebration party.

Before Viola can really get into the swing of the party she receives a visitor, who make Viola think deeply about a previous story that she became very involved in.
From there we are introduced to Viola’s partner, Ronny, who, it seems, will do anything for her. If only Viola can hold on to him.
Of course, that is as long as Viola’s mother Anne doesn’t stick her oar in, as she is wont to do. Viola’s shrink had already told to get out of her mothers grip!

The upshot of her mid-party visit launches Viola into a personal crusade to find out what happened to a missing video blogger. She undergoes doubts and recriminations; fear and trepidation, as she makes her choices that WILL have a major impact on her career and personal life.

Her partner, Ronny, has his own story running through the book and I just wanted them to TALK to each other. But when do people do that , when they most need to, not often.

The story has an urgency to it, as at every turn there is a race against the clock. This kept me reading, even when I wanted to turn off the light and close my eyes!

I’m not going to comment on how the book was written or anything, because when I’m reading I don’t necessarily think about such things unless they are obvious, so why discuss it if it doesn’t impinge on the reading.

I received an e-ARC of this novel from the author in exchange for a fair and honest review.

4/5 Stars (What this means…five-stars-applied-carefully)

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A finely-crafted psychological suspense thriller set in Norway’s capital city, Oslo, that will appeal to fans of Stieg Larsson. 

When a women’s fertility rights campaigner, Marianne Stine, mysteriously disappears, it hardly reaches the news. Only investigative journalist Viola Voss, harried by the blogger’s mother, shows any interest in finding out what happened to the young woman. Yet years pass and there is no further sign of Marianne.

However, on the eve of taking up a prestigious senior post in Norway’s largest newspaper, Voss is once again reminded of Marianne’s disappearance. In fact, Voss is soon presented with a tantalising clue that not only is Marianne alive, she has a healthy young child.

Part of Voss’s fascination with Marianne is because they share the same rare genetic condition that would be passed on to their children. Haunted by having lost her own child due to this hereditary disease, Voss determines – against the strong wishes of her own over-powering mother – to put her new job on hold, try to find Marianne, and an explanation.

Enlisting the help of an ex-police sergeant, the clues point to a fertility clinic on the outskirts of town. But this is where Voss’s problems begin. The clinic’s claim of a 100% fertility treatment success rate is beguiling and, with her inner world in turmoil, she decides to take a risk that will force her to confront her own fears, deal with her loss and decide between right and wrong. 

If you enjoy psychological mysteries with intense drama, look no further than A CHILD MADE TO ORDER 

The issue of genetic manipulation of human embryos, of children literally made to order, is increasingly becoming one of the most important ethical and medical issues of our time. With delicacy, and emotional sensitivity, the author makes you think about the matter like you never have before, in a novel where the tension increases on every page, and ends with a stunning climax. 

Piotr Ryczko is a Polish/Norwegian writer and film maker. A CHILD MADE TO ORDER is his first novel.

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How to be Human by Paula Cocozza

“He was lying on the grass in the centre of her garden. He had chosen an ostentatious spot for a doze. But she didn’t believe he was sleeping, because although his body presented itself as entirely still, his ears spiked sharply, ready to countermand his elegant sprawl.”

This is a really hard book to review without giving the plot away, which is how I like to write up the books I read.

It is about Mary, who lives alone, in a house she bought -out from her ex-boyfriend. Her neighbours Michelle and Eric are friendly enough, with their two kids; George and Flora, the babe-in-arms.

Life is not currently a pleasant place for Mary, I mentioned she had split up with her boyfriend! She is still single and her neighbours invite her to their barbecue. Are they matchmaking?

Talk turns to the local fox population, Michelle has a thing about them and seems to want to get an exterminator in, Mary isn’t so sure.

Mary has a problem of saying the wrong thing and then regretting what she has said. It’s a confidence thing. Maybe with time she will grew stronger, particularly now she has a new companion and protector. At least he will help keep her ex, who has just reappeared unexpectedly in the neighbourhood, at bay.

Mary confused me and yet I totally understood her. I empathised with her so much in many ways and then found myself thinking, why?

How do I score this book? I enjoyed it, but by the same token I found it odd. This is one you will have to decide on for yourself as to whether it is for you. I can’t compare it to anything I’ve read to give you any clues.

I received an e-ARC of this novel through NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. NetGalley does not allow for paid reviews.

3/5 Stars (What this means…five-stars-applied-carefully)

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‘An intriguing and subversive debut, charged with the power of the ignored and the suppressed.’ Hilary Mantel
‘Eerie, original . . . A thrilling exploration of what makes us human.’ i
You’ve seen a fox.
Come face to face in an unexpected place, or at an unexpected moment.
And he has looked at you, as you have looked at him. As if he has something to tell you, or you have something to tell him.
But what if it didn’t stop there?
When Mary arrives home from work one day to find a magnificent fox on her lawn – his ears spiked in attention and every hair bristling with his power to surprise – it is only the beginning. He brings gifts (at least, Mary imagines they are gifts), and gradually makes himself at home.
And as he listens to Mary, Mary listens back.
She begins to hear herself for the first time in years. Her bullish ex-boyfriend, still lurking on the fringes of her life, would be appalled. So would the neighbours with a new baby. They only like wildlife that fits with the decor. But inside Mary a wildness is growing that will not be tamed.
In this extraordinary debut, the lines between sanity and safety, obsession and delusion blur, in a thrilling exploration of what makes us human.

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Sometimes I Lie By Alice Feeney

“Stars cannot shine without darkness, whispers the little girl.”

I went into this book completely open-minded, based on the opening lines of the book.
“My name is Amber Reynolds. There are three things you should know about me:
1. I’m in a coma.
2. My husband doesn’t love me any more.
3. Sometimes I lie.”

For the size of the book, I actually read it very quickly, I was in one of my immersive moods. This was a good book for escaping the world in, in that the main character is escaping to different places in her mind while trapped in a coma.

The plot unfolds via flashbacks, diary entries and ‘here and now’ happenings. Sometimes Amber lies, but you cannot necessarily tell! Her sister, Claire, and Amber’s husband, Paul, are regular visitors at her bedside, sometimes at the same time. There are lots of undercurrents between the two of them, and it is hard to work out whether there is something going on or not, particularly as Amber doesn’t always tell the truth.
I admit to being tripped up between the two main female characters a time or two, so that meant I had to do a little backtracking, but it was worth it.
Alice Feeney manages to pack a lot of detail into her telling, which really helps you engage with the story, I could see it in my mind’s eye so vividly.
There are lots of plot twists cleverly woven into the tapestry of the story, the way they are revealed keeps you continually turning the pages as the different elements of the story come together and then something else comes to the fore as Amber’s mind whisks her down another tunnel.
I will of course have to read the entire book again to get the most from the twists and turns and tiny little bits that are there but you don’t notice and then think, Oh!
Even though I know how it ends and it ends really well let me tell you, it is definitely one to read twice and to recommend. So go read it, won’t you.

I received an e-ARC of this novel through NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. NetGalley does not allow for paid reviews.

5/5 Stars (What this means…five-stars-applied-carefully)

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Sometimes I Lie

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Official description:
My name is Amber Reynolds. There are three things you should know about me:
1. I’m in a coma.
2. My husband doesn’t love me anymore.
3. Sometimes I lie.
Unnerving, twisted and utterly compelling, you won’t be able to put this new thriller down. Set to be the most talked about book in 2017, it’s perfect for fans of Behind Closed Doors,The Girl on the Train and The Widow.

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Everything But The Truth by Gillian Mcallister

“I paused, my finger poised over the email. One swipe and I could see it. I must have waited a second too long, because the iPad dimmed, and I replaced it on the table, the email and my mad moment almost forgotten.”

This book seemed like it was going to be a real mystery tale, but what was it really about?

The story gradually builds up to a really intense situation which seems to have no escape route. Rachel goes about things in such an about turn manner when she suspects her boyfriend, and father of her child, of doing something really out of range following an email that she half catches a glimpse of, in the middle of the night. This is despite her own secret which is eating away at her, following an incident at the hospital where she worked.

Rachel gradually burrows her way into the secrets that Jack has buried deep and drives such a deep wedge between them. How can they ever bring up their unborn child as a loving couple after this? Such a sad, lonely tale !

I received an e-ARC of this novel through NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. NetGalley does not allow for paid reviews.

4/5 Stars (What this means…five-stars-applied-carefully)

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It all started with the email. It came through to her boyfriend’s iPad in the middle of the night. Rachel didn’t even mean to look. She loves Jack, and she’s pregnant with their child. She trusts him. But now she’s seen it, she can’t undo that moment, or the chain of events it has set in motion. Why has Jack been lying about his past? Just what exactly is he hiding? And doesn’t Rachel have a right to know the truth at any cost?

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Let The Dead Speak: A Maeve Kerrigan crime thriller by Jane Casey

“‘Mr Norris,’ Chloe said, very calmly, because the alternative was screaming. ‘Where’s Mum?’”

I quite like crime novels and I was anticipating that this one might be a little different

It wasn’t totally different than other detective style books, the main character leads a lonely life, there is friction with colleagues, the story has some obvious elements to it.

The plot is a good one, I did work out some parts of it, at the same time there were some complete surprises too. The characters were well written and the description of the environment worked well for me.

It follows the story of Chloe who comes home to her Mums, from her Fathers (Chloe’s parents are divorced). On arriving back in town, it is teeming with rain, her neighbour spots her and gives her a lift home. Chloe forgets her bag in his car and he brings it round. When he see inside Chloe’s mums house, he rings the police and take Chloe over to his place.

The story then shifts to the perspective of the Detective Sergeant involved in the case and how she and her colleagues gather the evidence and sift through all the clues to try to solve the case before anyone else disappears, or dies.

I would specifically recommend this book to both my Father and my Mother-in-Law. I do know that they both would enjoy this tale as they both like(d) crime novels, so I will see about finding a paperback copy for my Mother-in-Law.

I received an e-ARC of this novel through NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. NetGalley does not allow for paid reviews.

4/5 Stars (What this means…five-stars-applied-carefully)

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The chilling new crime novel from award-winning author, Jane Casey. When an 18-year-old girl returns home to find her house covered in blood and her mother missing, Detective Maeve Kerrigan and the murder squad must navigate a web of lies to discover the truth… When eighteen-year-old Chloe Emery returns to her West London home she finds Kate, her mother, missing and the house covered in blood. There may not be a body, but everything else points to murder. Maeve Kerrigan is young, ambitious and determined to prove she’s up to her new role as detective sergeant. In the absence of a body, she and maverick detective Josh Derwent turn their attention to the neighbours. The ultra-religious Norrises are acting suspiciously; their teenage daughter definitely has something to hide. Then there’s William Turner, once accused of stabbing a schoolmate and the neighbourhood’s favourite criminal. Is he merely a scapegoat or is there more behind the charismatic façade? As the accusations fly, Maeve must piece together a patchwork of conflicting testimonies, none of which quite add up. Who is lying, who is not? The answer could lead them to the truth about Kate Emery, and save the life of someone else.

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Momentary Stasis by P R Adams

“The target accelerated for the building’s edge. Rimes heard a window shatter.

He leapt out of the building.
Four stories up, and he leapt
.”

The world has all gone to hell and mega corporates are doing their best to control everything. Military and intelligence agencies are doing what they can to keep things straight. The men on the front line are doing their best to follow orders AND stay alive.

This novel follows the career of Jackson Rimes, a sergeant, a commando. ‘Jack’ is married to Molly and when on deployment he finds the separation difficult.

Adams seems to have the difficulties of a distance-based relationship nailed. Molly hates Jack being away on duty. And Jack is subjected to temptations while he is. Will their marriage survive a military life?

I don’t quite know where the title fits in, but that is the case with some other stories that I have read, so I’m not quibbling over it. Overall it is an interesting story that has depth and you do get your reads-worth as its is by no means a short book.

It’s quite hard to review without revealing a lot of the story, which I try hard not to do, else what is the point in you reading the book afterwards!

Jack (and his team) gets involved in trying to stop the mega corporations from carrying on illicit activities.
One of his wounded team mates from one o the first mission warns him that he is too trusting. Jack shrugs this off.
There is fall-out (not in the nuclear sense) from this job and he is put into further jobs based on his excellent performance.

The plots continues … And you need to read the book to find out what happens!

I received an e-ARC of this novel from the author in exchange for a fair and honest review.

4/5 Stars (What this means…five-stars-applied-carefully)

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World peace can be deadly.

Humans discover alien technology and start colonizing worlds outside the solar system. Genetic modification produces miracles. Science advances the human condition. And, for the first time in history, the nations of the world have achieved real peace with each other.

But only the elite truly benefit from all the advancements. Most people are still trapped on an Earth ruined by chemical pollution, nuclear accidents, and chaotic weather changes. Rebellious “genies”–genetically engineered servants–cause more harm than good. And global corporations have stripped the idea of nations and freedom of any real meaning.

Sergeant Jack Rimes is no stranger to intrigue. The U.S. Army Special Forces operator lives in a time where every nation on Earth is at peace… but there are plenty of secrets to go around. As corporate greed threatens humanity, genetically engineered humans are making international mayhem of their own.

After his unplanned reassignment to the Intelligence Bureau, Jack is tasked with tracking down a rogue agent implicated in a political assassination. As he and his new partner, an old flame, search the globe for answers, the truth shakes him to his core. The powers-that-be may not be very interested in keeping humanity alive…

Momentary Stasis is the first book in a provocative series of grimdark military sci-fi novels full of intrigue, horror, and action that unflinchingly explores the impact of technology and unbridled greed on humanity. If you like gritty, flawed protagonists, tech-heavy thrillers, and incredible new worlds, then you’ll love the first installment from PR Adams’ provocative new series.

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The Girl Before by J P Delaney

“And it’s smart. It learns who you are and what your usual routine is, but anyone else, it’ll check with you to make sure they’re authorised.”

I like minimalist and the fact that the house had a lot of rules intrigued me. Plus a mysterious thriller to read, I was so keen to read this book. I imagined white rooms with stainless or brushed steel fittings and bare floors. I’m wondering about the rules though, what are they?!

The book follow two timelines, one for Jane and one for Emma. It is easy to follow as all the sections start with either “Then:Emma” or “Now:Jane”. Both Emma and Jane have had trauma in their lives (as have many people, but in their case, it is relatively recent) and need to move on. Finding somewhere suitable to live at an affordable price can be a challenge, when you need to feel secure in your home environment. Their estate agents offer to show them One Folgate Street as a final last ditch attempt to find them somewhere that fits their requirements. Both Emma and Jane are advised that the terms of the lease are strict, and unusual. Plus there is an involved application process with no guarantee that they will get through to the final hurdle, a personal interview.

Having completed the form and gone through the hoops, the tenants are introduced to the house and it’s systems. The house looks after its occupants, the occupants keep the house clutter-free and clean, and “obey the rules”.

Over the course of the book Jane’s story unfolds and Jane, in turn, unravels Emma’s story as she settles in to her new home. In doing so Jane begins to wonder if her own life is in danger and races to find out what happened to Emma in order to save herself.

I read this book in one day and thoroughly enjoyed it. It has stayed with me as snippets have popped into my mind from time to time. It reminded me ever so slightly of an old film I’ve seen, where the technology of the house comes alive and wants to stay that way.

This book is worth taking time to read. Book some time out in your diary.

I received an e-ARC of this novel through NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. NetGalley does not allow for paid reviews.

4/5 Stars (What this means…five-stars-applied-carefully)

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Enter the world of One Folgate Street and discover perfection . . . but can you pay the price? 

For all fans of The Girl on the Train and Gone Girl comes this spellbinding Hitchcockian thriller which takes psychological suspense to the next level

Jane stumbles on the rental opportunity of a lifetime: the chance to live in a beautiful ultra-minimalist house designed by an enigmatic architect, on condition she abides by a long list of exacting rules. After moving in, she discovers that a previous tenant, Emma, met a mysterious death there – and starts to wonder if her own story will be a re-run of the girl before. As twist after twist catches the reader off guard, Emma’s past and Jane’s present become inexorably entwined in this tense, page-turning portrayal of psychological obsession.

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