“Open the door. Show us your face. Come Into the Light.” // Review of “I’ll Be Gone In The Dark” by Michelle McNamara

Title: I’ll Be Gone In The Dark
Author: Michelle McNamara
Audio book narrator: Gabra Zackman
Genre: Non-fiction/true crime
Intended audience: Adult
Date Read: 25/07/2021 – 03/08/2021
Rating: 
★★★

I’m not a big reader of true crime to be honest, and my main reason for having this audio book to hand was that it was one of those free book on Audible one month.

I remember hearing about this book when it first came out, how the author tragically died before she could complete her research, and how just a couple of months after the book’s publication, the man she was relentlessly pursuing was finally caught.

While McNamara’s research is meticulous, I found that the further I got into the book, the more the details blurred into a long list of names and dates that I couldn’t keep track of. It didn’t help that the book doesn’t follow a completely linear timeline so I was feeling pretty lost by about halfway through.

McNamara’s premature death may be part of the reason for this, and the fact that the book was pieced together by others, but it also felt like the chapters were all written separately and never edited for flow. An incident that’s referred to in an earlier chapter is then referred to later like I’ve never heard of it, rehashing a lot of the information I’d already heard.

I do give five stars to the epilogue, McNamara’s “Letter to an Old Man”. It made me cry, and I’m getting teary again just thinking about it now a week later. McNamara addresses it to the old man the Golden State Killer now is, mocking him and telling him that at some point investigators will catch up with him. It’s an incredibly powerful piece of writing, made all the more so in retrospect by the knowledge that she was right.


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Book Review: “Murderland” by Pamela Murray

Title: Murderland (Manchester Murders #1)
Author: Pamela Murray
Audiobook narrator: Clare Eden
Genre: Crime/thriller
Intended audience: Adult
Dates Read: 20/06/2021 – 23/06/21
Rating: ★★★

Review:

It’s been quite a while since I read a thriller or listened to an audio book. It was a pretty good feeling to get back into both. This was an easy read, and honestly, I did like it, but I found there were a few things that bothered me enough to prevent me from enjoying it more.

The first is that this was written in a very detached style. The old adage of “show, don’t tell” was definitely not adhered to, and I really felt like I was listening to someone relate the events of the book after the fact, instead of being in amongst the action. On top of this, it’s written in 3rd person omniscient, not a perspective I read much. And I have to admit, I didn’t enjoy jumping between different characters’ thoughts and perspectives on the regular.

These two aspects combined particularly bothered me when I was told things like “the DCI knew that Burton had strong feelings for Fielding.” Well, okay, but there’s not been much at all to really suggest that to me. Fielding and Burton share the stage for quite a bit of the novel and there was very little chemistry there. There were also lots of “He felt that” and “It seemed to her” type sentences, which put me at an arms length from the action.

I also felt the murderer’s motivation, once revealed, was a bit far-fetched.

Still, it was a reasonably entertaining thriller. I found myself wanting to know more and being drawn back to it. Clare Eden’s delivery of the audiobook sometimes felt a bit dry, but as far as I could tell with my limited knowledge of Northern English accents, she had a fairly good grasp on the small differences between the regions.

I still haven’t decided whether I’ll continue with the series, but I certainly haven’t written it off entirely yet.


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#LoveOzYA #AWW2020 “A large male orderly stands sentry, securing her passage to the place beyond sanity, and Emma steps inside…” // Review of “None Shall Sleep” by Ellie Marney

Title: None Shall Sleep
Author: Ellie Marney
Genre: Thriller/historical fiction
Intended audience: YA
Date Read: 17/08/2020– 20/08/2020
Rating: 
★★★★

Review:

People who know me tend to view me as the boppy, cheery, showtune-belting one, so it always comes as a surprise to them when I announce how much I love books about serial killers (only fictional ones; I can’t do the real ones).

When Ellie Marney announced earlier this year that she was writing a serial killer thriller, I couldn’t have been happier! (I’m sure there’s a showtune I could find to express the excitement.)

I did find that I took a little while to really get into this one, but by the time I got to the end, I was thinking it was my favourite Ellie Marney book (second only to White Night). There are lots of twists and turns, including a character death I totally wasn’t expecting. There are lots of references to blood, and the climax gets violent and bit gory, so I would caution against it if you are faint of heart.

I was surprised there was no romance, given this is an Ellie Marney book. But it works just fine without it, and to be honest, given the things the characters have already gone through and what they continue to go through, it would probably be a bit squiffy to have it in there as well. I really liked the friendship that formed between Emma and Travis instead, that they could recognise each other’s trauma and be there for each other, but also knew how much the other could take and when they needed to step in.

The book is set in 1982 but to be honest, I sometimes forgot! Until the characters are trying to get somewhere without a map, or need to go and find a nearby phone to contact someone. This was fairly early days in the behavioural science field, and it was interesting hearing learning about that.


This review is part of my 2020 Australian Women Writers Challenge. Click here for more information.

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(I received a free copy of this book from Ellie Marney in a Twitter giveaway)

“If I’m already dead to the people I love, I might as well die for them.” // Review of “Killman Creek” by Rachel Caine

Title: Killman Creek (Stillhouse Lake #2)
Author: Rachel Caine
Genre:
Thriller
Date Read: 23/11/2017 – 24/11/2017
Rating: ★★★★

Review:

After completely devouring the first book in this series, I was very excited to find the second as  Read Now book on NetGalley. I could get straight onto it!

I won’t do much a summary here to avoid spoilers for the previous book, but rest assured that this instalment in the Stillhouse Lake series is just as gripping and nasty as the last. It delves into the world of the darknet, corporate greed, and the way a single seed of doubt can be sown so easily. I will say this: this book is not for the faint-hearted. If you have a weak constitution, you might want to find another book to read. By the time I reached the end, I needed to go seek comfort in a beloved childhood book for a while.

Unlike the first book, which is all from Gwen’s POV, this one also has chapters from Sam Cade’s, as well as the two Proctor kids, Lanny and Connor. At first I was a bit wary, as I’m often not a fan of mulitple perspectives, especially in first person, where they can all start to sound the same. I needn’t have worried, though; the way the narrative unfolded made perfect sense.

The first quarter or so of the book felt a bit road-trippy, with nothing really happening. But then as things started to be revealed, as wires got crossed and characters’ loyalties to each other were tested, I found myself just as hooked as I had been on the first book. I couldn’t put it down. I needed to know what had happened to the characters, and whether or not they were telling the truth (it wasn’t always easy to tell, even when I thought I knew them).

The book wraps up this particular story, though there was the slight suggestion of other things to come. If this series does continue, I’ll definitey be checking it out, but I was definitely left feeling satisfied at the end of this one.


Thank you to NetGalley and the Publishers for a free copy of this book in exchange for a review.

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“In the morning, there’s another girl floating dead in the lake.” // Review of “Stillhouse Lake” by Rachel Caine

Title: Stillhouse Lake (Stillhouse Lake #1)
Author: Rachel Caine
Genre:
Thriller
Date Read: 21/11/2017 – 22/11/2017
Rating: ★★★★

Review:

I love a good serial killer book, even if it does make me start looking over my shoulder when I go out alone for a couple of days afterwards. This book certainly delivered not only on that front, but also on showing the dark side of the Internet, and how innocent people can be in danger from  the mob just be virtue of being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

When a car accident reveals Melvin Royal’s seceret life as a serial killer, his wife Gina is tried as an accessory, and even after being acquitted, is still dogged by those on the Internet who think she escaped justice, or who want revenge on behalf of the victims. Fearful for her own safety, as well as her own children, she establishes a new life under a false name in the quaint town of Stillhouse Lake. But when a body is discovered in the lake baring her husband’s MO, she realises that maybe she has never been out of danger.

Stillhouse Lake is fast-paced and intense. I read most of it in one sitting because I knew if I didn’t get the closure of the ending, I wouldn’t sleep that night. While Melvin Royal is not present on the page all that often, when he is, he is slimy and horrifying. Gina’s reinvented persona, Gwen, is strong and fiercely protective of her children. I was filled with dread whenever it transpired that the alarm on their home hadn’t been set, or when one of the kids disappeared.

I did guess a couple of the twists throughout the story, but the overall villain remained a mystery to me, and there were several twists I didn’t see coming at all, but which made a whole lot of sense once I knew them. Knowing there was a second book, I had figured that something like what happens right at the end would take place, but I was able to get my hands on a copy of the sequel straight away, so it didn’t bother me.  It is pretty cliffhanger-y, though, and I know some people don’t like cliffhangers, so fair warning for that.

This has been a good year for thrillers, and this is  another one to add to the list. Gripping, suspensful, with a great climax. Stay tuned for my review of book 2!