The Holdout by Graham Moore
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Published: 20th February 2020 (Orion)
Being a juror on a high profile murder case has got to be a thrill ride and a half: looking at the bloody evidence and weighing witness statements, the savage craziness of the media interest, then finally getting to decide the fate of a man charged with murder. It’s got to be just like tv, right? Exciting. Maybe even a shot at your own fame… 15 minutes or otherwise.
But what Maya Seale got wasn’t quite fame, it was INFAMY. Not convinced of Bobby Nock’s guilt beyond reasonable doubt, she campaigned for a Not Guilty verdict and eventually persuaded, or wore down, all the other jurors. The result was spectacularly unpopular, provoking uproar in both the courtroom and the real world, and changing the jurors’ lives forever.
Now it’s 10 years later and they’re back together again. Apparently there’s new evidence to consider and more questions to be asked. Everyone wants to know if they got it wrong. But when one juror ends up dead, it looks like someone’s willing to kill to keep their secrets buried for good.
It took me over a week to read the first 150 pages of this book. Then I read the last half in an evening. While it took a while for the story to really get off the ground, the back half of the book was truly addictive and I couldn’t stop reading. Even when I should have been asleep.
From the beginning, we know things have gone horribly wrong for our narrator, who has been apartment sitting in the most illustrious residence in New York City. The Bartholomew is insanely famous, having been the home of countless celebrities over the decades. When recently unemployed Jules stumbles across an opportunity to live in the glamorous building while she gets back on her feet, and actually get paid a thousand dollars a week to do so, it’s too good a chance to pass up. But the Bartholomew isn’t what it seems, and the learning the truth behind the famous gargoyled facade could prove dangerous. Or even fatal. …
Safe House by Jo Jakeman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Published: 31st October 2019 (Harvill Secker)
Steffi Finn was in love with her man. So when he told her that the police were trying to fit him up for something he hadn’t done, she lied for him. Said he was with her all night. Because that’s what you do, right? You protect the ones you care about. Most of all, you believe them. In cases like this, you have to believe them. Otherwise those questions about missing women mean there’s something a whole lot worse going on than you just making a mistake….
And boy was she ever wrong, with a prison sentence to prove it.
Now she’s out. New name. New life. A chance to start again.
The Stranger Inside by Lisa Unger
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars
Published: 03 October 2019 (HQ)
Bad people win. They win all the time.
Rain Winter was outraged by the not-guilty verdict that allowed Steve Markham to get away with killing his wife and their unborn child. Her investigation of the murder had left her with no doubts about his guilt, the injustice of his freedom and the inevitable media circus that gifted him the celebrity spotlight leaving her feeling sickened and powerless. Taking time out from journalism to care for her husband and baby seemed like a welcome and necessary step, a break from all the madness. But now Markham’s dead. Butchered by the same method he used to get rid of his family. And word is that it’s not the only time this vigilante has acted. That the first was actually Eugene Kreskey, the man who tried to abduct her as a child. The man who killed one of her friends and tortured the other.
If there’s a link, a story, she needs to find it. All of a sudden, she’s right back in, bringing to light all kinds of secrets that should have stayed buried. Especially her own.
I’m sure most everyone who follows my reviews has noticed this by now, but I really love Nora Roberts. I don’t tend to read all that much in the contemporary or romance genres, but she’s my exception. I’ve been reading my way through her back catalogue since I was fifteen or so, and for the past ten years have been reading her new releases as soon as I can get my hands on them. Now, she’s one of the few authors who is an insta-buy for me. While Under Currents didn’t blow me away, it was another strong offering that demonstrated to me once again that Nora seems incapable of producing a dud. She’s just awesome.
“The couldn’t take who we are away from us. We’re who we are despite them.”
If I were asked to describe this book in one word, I would reply with a single syllable: meh. The Dry is a lauded debut with a respectably high rating, but I was obviously missing something. It wasn’t a bad book, I just couldn’t quite manage to connect. …
Revisiting a famed story over 35 years after its original publication has to be terrifying for any author, even the King of Horror. However, King handled this with great aplomb and, though I was skeptical in the beginning, I feel that he did right by Dan Torrence. In his author’s note King said that this story spawned from two questions: “Whatever happened to that kid from The Shining?” and “What would have happened to Danny’s troubled father if he had found Alcoholics Anonymous instead of trying to get by with what people in AA called “white-knuckle sobriety”?” Through Doctor Sleep, we get answers to both of these questions, but with Danny himself standing in for Jack Torrence in the alcohol department.
“There are other worlds than these.”
I don’t know that I’ve ever yearned from something as terrifying as Wesley’s pink Kindle.
“A crazy certainty had arisen in his mind: a hand – or perhaps a claw – was going to swim up from the grayness of the Kindle’s screen, grab him by the throat, and yank him in.”
Imagine a world ten years in the past. Electronic books and e-readers are just beginning to take the world by storm. Wesley Smith is a college English literature professor who, after a nasty breakup partially over his distaste for the new trend of reading on a device, has decided to bite the bullet and purchase his first ever Kindle from Amazon. It arrives sooner than it should, sans instructions and sporting an odd pink color instead of the white of all other Kindles. Also unusual is the fact that, under the ‘Experimental’ section is a handful of subsections called Urs. Ur is evidently representative of alternate realities in which authors lived longer or died younger, attached themselves to different genres or penned more and greater works than are present in our reality. If this doesn’t sound like an incredible and awe-inspiring addition to the Kindle store, you and I view the world very differently. …
“Her silence was like a mirror—reflecting yourself back at you. And it was often an ugly sight.”
I feel that the domestic noir mystery novel has become almost cliche at this point. After Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl took the world by storm, a multitude of others poured forth that followed the same formula, whether by chance or purposeful emulation. I would consider The Silent Patient part of the same genre, but refreshingly different from many of its compatriots. The setting, the narrator, and the twists all felt unique, and combined in a way that actually surprised me. I especially enjoyed the psychology element, and the way the author ensured that we could see mental health issues and therapy from the points of view of both patients and doctors. Also, I appreciated the inclusion of an Ancient Greek play, and its importance to the plot; this addition felt very cultured, and made me immediately interested in learning more about said play. …