Saturday, October 17, 2020

When I was ten by Fiona Cummins

The murder of Dr. and Mrs. Carter shocked the nation, with images of their daughter wearing blood soaked pyjamas splashed across the front page.  The people from their village weren't shocked, they were outraged that a pillar of their community and his wife had been murdered, stabbed viciously with scissors, by one of their spoilt brats.  No one knew the truth, well no one grown up - their friend and neighbour knew the truth about what it is was like to live in the Carter house.  No one but Brinley Booth knew about the mental torment, the physical abuse, the cruel mind games and manipulations of the adult Carters.  Shannon and Sara have to put up with mind games and near starvation, which makes them the target of other children in the village who have no idea of what is happening to the sisters.  Being a doctor makes it easier for their father to hide the extent of his abuse - he can mend broken bones, put stitches in wounds, and know exactly how far he can push things.  That all changes one fateful night. when he pushes one of his daughters too far.

Years later, in another quiet village Catherine Allen wakes in the night to discover that her world has been turned upside down overnight.  Somehow the press has discovered that she was once one of the Carter sisters, given a new name and a fresh start at life - something she embraced.  Married with a daughter of her own, her carefully rebuilt world starts to crumble as her husband and daughter discover who she really is.  At the same time, Brinley Booth finds herself in an awkward position as a journalist who has an amazing story to tell - if only she can push herself to break trust with her friends and give an exclusive story to the newspaper she works for.  As Catherine struggles to come to terms with her sisters sudden reappearance in the world, she also has to face what happened all those years ago and what it means for her, her sister, and Brinley.

When I was ten is one of those books that uses the technique of moving back and forth between times to tell the story - sometimes that doesn't work very well, but it works brilliantly for When I was ten.  One of the reasons the time shifting works is because it presents what is happening now, shows what happened in the past, shows more about the present, then explains more about the past - but it does it in a smooth manner that feels like a moving conversation rather than just jumping around.  This was one of those brilliant stories where I kept flip-flopping over where I thought the story was heading as Cummins did such an amazing job of dropping hints and tricks equally.  

The characters are what drives the story, and while there is action and drama, it is the characters that carry the story.  What happened to the Carter sisters was horribly awful, and the worst part is that you know there are children out there who are living with the same or worse.  It felt like Cummins handled the subject matter with compassion and respect, rather than just using it as a gimmick.  There are so many themes here that despite the somewhat icky subject matter, it would make a brilliant book club read as there are so many aspects of the story that could open up all kinds of discussions and further reading. 

Highly recommended read, though people who have experienced child abuse and severe neglect may find the subject matter triggering.

If you like this book then try:

Reviewed by Brilla

Tuesday, October 6, 2020

Sweet little lies by Caz Frear

Catrina "Cat" Kinsella is a Detective Constable with Murder Investigation Team 4 - although if her supervisor Detective Chief Inspector Steele has her way, Cat may be shuffled off on a secondment soon for her 'own good'.  After attending a particularly gruesome murder scene, where a little girl was with her mothers dead body for several days before being discovered, Cat has been forced to go to counselling to help her deal with the emotional aftermath.  The counselling doesn't seem to be doing much good though, it is just stirring up emotions and memories she has no intention to deal with - particularly around her relationship with her estranged father.  Cat and her father have barely spoken for years, partly because of his womanizing way before her mother died. and partly because she kept a secret for him when she was a child - the secret that he had seen Maryanne Doyle before she went missing nearly twenty years ago.

When a woman is found murdered in her patch, Cat has no idea that the murder victim, Alice Lapaine is going to start a fall of dominoes that has the potential to end her career with the Police.  As they investigate her murder, they discover that Alice was keeping secrets from her family and friends - she was not who she said she was.  When Cat realizes that the murder scene is only a stones throw from the pub where her father lives and works, it raises some difficult questions for her - could her father be involved in the death of Alice?  Cat knows she should confess the potential conflict of interest and excuse herself from the case, but she can't do it.  As she gets more and more involved in the case she uncovers secrets that were better left forgotten and buried - Alice's and her own.

When you read as many crime and thriller books as I do it can be challenging to find a book that stands out from the rest of the field, but Sweet little lies managed to do just that.  Cat is a relatable character, she isn't perfect, and she makes mistakes - just like the rest of us.  Through her memories and experiences we learn about Cat and her family, and her family connection to the disappearance of Maryanne Doyle so many years ago.  I was talking with someone recently about what makes a great main characters for a crime/thriller and we came to the conclusion that it was having flaws that make them more relatable.  Cat has flaws in spades, and like so many people she takes an awkward situation and makes it worse by keeping secrets and trying to stay in control - something that never goes well for anyone.  

Sweet little lies is the first book in a series and does an outstanding job of setting Cat up as a character, filling in some of her past, and creating a situation that could make or break her career.  It has elements of a mystery, aspects of a thriller, and just a dash of family drama to make a thoroughly engrossing and addictive read that I had to read in one sitting because I resented every little interruption when I was trying to read.   The advantage of discovering Sweet little lies now is that I don't have to wait ages for the sequel because it is already published!

If you like this book then try:

Reviewed by Brilla

Thursday, October 1, 2020

Before she was Helen by Caroline B. Cooney

 Helen Stephens has a quiet existence in the Sun City community, surrounded by other seniors and enough diversions to make her retirement interesting.  She spends her days teaching Latin part time, playing cards, and socialisng with her closest neighbours.  It's not an exciting existence, but she doesn't want exciting, she wants peace and quiet - peace and quiet mean no one will uncover her secrets.  The biggest secret she hides is that Helen Stephens is not her real name, her real name is Clementine "Clemmie" Lakefield and she is hiding from her past.  For decades she has hidden from her past, living as Helen Stephens, doing nothing to attract attention to herself - all that changes in a single morning.  Clemmie has a key for her next door neighbours house, a secretive and anti-social man named Dominic "Dom" Spesante.  The key was for emergencies, a grudging little bit of trust after he had a bad fall and wasn't discovered straight away.  

When Dom doesn't answer her daily check in text Clemmie lets herself into his unit, and in the process of looking for him discovers a door in the garage that connects Dom's unit to the end unit - a unit that is empty most of the time, the owners barely seen.  Letting herself into the end unit Clemmie has a look at the sterile looking unit and discovers a glass sculpture that captures her attention.  Snapping a quick picture with her phone she sends the image to her grand niece and grand nephew, two of the only family she has left.  It is a moment that she quickly lives to regret because the glass sculpture is more than it appears, and the owner wants it back.  For years Clemmie has lived in relative safety and security, but that is all about to change in more ways than one - and she may finally have to face her past.

Before she was Helen was a completely absorbing read that I read in a single session because I didn't want to put it down.  This book has two stories woven together by Clemmie.  In the present we have Helen, a single semi-retired woman who carefully keeps her family and community lives separated - complete with separate cell phones.  In the past we have Clemmie as a teenager and young woman who has to deal with something no woman should have to - a past that could be exposed by events in the present.  With a character driven story and fast pace this is a book that is easy to read, despite some of the themes and situations, and it will be very interesting to see if Caroline B. Cooney writes more adult novels as this was a thoroughly absorbing read.

If you like this book then try:

Reviewed by Brilla

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

The coast to coast murders by James Patterson and J.D.Barker

 It all starts with an innocent phone call, a neighbour complaining about water coming from his apartment, and it ends with Michael Kepler finding a body in his bath tub.  This would be a traumatic event for anybody, finding the body of a stranger dead in your apartment, but it is just the start of the nightmare.  The LAPD are convinced that Michael and the victim knew each other, that they had a relationship - and even Michael has to admit the evidence is pretty convincing.  As they dig into the case Michael is forced to admit to his past, that he hasn't been Michael Kepler since he was a child - his legal name is Michael Fitzgerald, and he has spent the last few years working as a long haul truck driver, estranged from his adoptive parents trying to make a life of his own.  Even the death and funeral of his adoptive father isn't a compelling enough reason to return to the 'loving' home he grew up in.

Michael seems to be in a dream he can't wake from, a nightmare in which he is pursued by Detective Dobbs from the LAPD, and FBI Agent Gimble.  The only lifeline he has is his adopted sister Megan, who has faced her own share of challenges over the years at the hands of their parents.  From the outside Michael and Megan were both lucky to have ended up with Doctors Bart and Rose Fitzgerald, a respected psychologist and psychiatrist - but living with them was not the rescue either of them needed or deserved.  Doctor Bart was not raising the children, he was conducting an experiment, and as Michael and Megan know only too well it was not for their benefit.  As Michael runs he experiences crippling headaches, blackouts, and a string of bodies is left in his wake.  As Michael ang Megan race to reach the last two names on what appears to be more of a hit list than patient list, they will uncover secrets that were better left buried.  Detective Dobbs and Agent Gimble are in a race against time, and they don't know what they are facing - no one really does.

The coast to coast murders is the kind of action driven, completely absorbing thriller I have come to expect from James Patterson and his coauthors.  This is a departure from the stories about detectives and agents, although both are included - this is a thriller about a young man who has woken up in a nightmare where he is not a victim but a criminal.  You don't know what to expect, it seems so cut and dried and obvious that he is the killer, but once he is on the run you are confronted with a more startling reality - instead of being nurtured and protected by his guardians he was instead subjected to experimentation that would break most adults.  The true horror of his upbringing is slowly revealed as his story blends with the written statement from his adopted sister Megan.  It is also clear that the two siblings looked out for each and still look out for each other - important when you have been through what they have.

This is one of those stories where I am trying not to say too much because the twists and flow of the story depends on you coming into it with no idea what is coming - it is more enjoyable and awe inspiring that way.  This is a crime thriller unlike any I have read this year and it is going to take some serious skill for anyone (alone or co-authored) to knock The coast to coast murders off the throne of best crime thriller for 2020 for me.  It uses all of it's 554 to drag you on a twisting and twisted ride as you try and figure out what is really happening and why.

If you like this book then try:
  • Kill me if you can by James Patterson and Marshall Karp
  • Lost by James Patterson and James O. Born
  • Never never by James Patterson and Candice Fox
  • Good me bad me by Ali Land
  • Spare me the truth by C.J. Carver
  • Orphan X by Greg Hurwitz
  • Eeny meeny by M.J. Arlidge
  • Sticks and stones by Katherine Firkin
  • The better sister by Alafair Burke
  • The vanishing season by Joanna Schaffhausen
  • Killing trail by Margaret Mizushima
  • Breaking Creed by Alex Kava
  • City of fear by Alafair Burke
  • Gathering dark by Candice Fox

Reviewed by Brilla

Monday, September 28, 2020

The midwife murders by James Patterson and Richard DiLallo

 Lucy Ryuan is a midwife at the Gramatan University Hospital (GUH), working in a midwifery department that seems to be held in disdain by the CEO Dr. Barrett Katz.  Lucy is used to standing up for herself and her patients, and nothing will stop her looking out for the welfare of her tiny little charges and their mothers.  Highly experienced, Lucy and her fellow midwives have years of training and on-the-job experience, and there is very little that they can't handle.  When one of the babies they delivered goes missing Lucy is concerned, but she is also angry, angry that anyone would steal a baby.  

When another baby goes missing, and then another in rather gruesome circumstances, Lucy is determined to stop the kidnappers no matter what.  That determination leads her right into the path of Detective Leon Blumenthal, who has invaded the hospital along with the rest of his team.  Everyone at GUH is on edge, but there seems to be a frustrating lack of progress on the case.  When Lucy finds her safety, and the safety of her son Willie, at risk she knows she has no choice but to finish what she started.

The midwife murders is an interesting read, mainly because it is not quite in the same style as other books by James Patterson and his co-authors.  It is in a similar, slightly off kilter style as The store which was also co-authored by Richard Dilallo, but it still may not appeal to readers of the 'typical' James Patterson novel.  Lucy Ryuan is a feisty and interesting character to have as a lead - she is determined, stubborn, has her flaws, and has a fantastic temper which leads her into all sorts of interesting situations.  Her flipsides are Detective Leon Blumenthal who seems to be so laid back and dismissive that he seems to belittle her, and the equally cool and calm Dr. Rudra Sarkar who seems to be very interested in Lucy for a number of reasons.

The midwife murders will not appeal to all readers as it is quite a departure from the 'traditional' James Patterson, mainly because it is so focused on one character (Lucy) and everything she feels and sees colours how you see and feel everything too.  This is not an intense action thriller that takes place at a mile a minute, or a detective focused thriller where you test yourself to see if you have solved the puzzle before the end - it is much more emotion-tugging and character driven.  I didn't dislike it, I didn't love it, it was a solid read.  This was an enjoyable read, and I loved the reference to the Call the midwife TV series that appears (because who wouldn't). 

If you like this book then try:
  • 1st case by James Patterson & Chris Tebbetts
  • Kill me if you can by James Patterson and Marshall Karp
  • Lost by James Patterson and James O. Born
  • Never never by James Patterson and Candice Fox
  • Spare me the truth by C.J. Carver
  • Orphan X by Greg Hurwitz
  • Eeny meeny by M.J. Arlidge
  • City of the lost by Kelley Armstrong
  • The better sister by Alafair Burke
  • The vanishing season by Joanna Schaffhausen
  • Breaking Creed by Alex Kava
  • City of fear by Alafair Burke
  • Gathering dark by Candice Fox

Reviewed by Brilla

Sunday, September 6, 2020

Warrior of the wild by Tricia Levenseller

Life is hard for eighteen year old Rasmira and her people.  They live in a harsh world where they live at the whim of a powerful god who demands tribute each year for the the boon of letting them live their lives.  Rasmira knows she is lucky to be the daughter of the village leader, she and her sisters have never gone hungry, but there is a lot of pressure for her to succeed too.  Her father has great expectations of Rasmira, expecting her to be just as deadly as the boys that are training to be warriors, and only her adult trial stands between Rasmira and her destiny.  It is not easy being her fathers daughter though, the boys she has grown up with and trained beside resent the special treatment she appears to receive - the praise heaped upon her as they receive curses, not just from her father but from their trainer as well.  

Rasmira is used to being alone and apart, but recently she has discovered that there is more to life than training and fighting monsters.  Entering her trial seems like a reward at the end of the uphill fight she has faced - but then disaster strikes as her trial is sabotaged and Rasmira has no choice but to either complete her mattugr or face banishment and certain death in the wilds beyond her village.  The mattugr she is given is no simple task, they never are - she has to travel across the wild and kill the god who oppresses her people.  Rasmira has seen the god in action and knows that he has powers that protect him, making it almost certain that she will fail her mattugr and remain banished forever.  

Her father and village have underestimated her determination though, and as Rasmira sets out to find the god Peruxolo and end his life she knows that she will find and kill the god or die trying.  The wilds are a dangerous place, filled with monsters and creatures that are deadly, but in Rasmira also finds beauty and some surprising allies where she least expects them.  As she fights to survive long enough to complete her task, Rasmira finds herself learning some surprising lessons.  But will it be enough to keep her alive long enough, and give her the knowledge she needs, to complete her mattugr and return home?

I picked up a copy of Warrior of the wild after reading The shadows between us hoping that the story would be as good, and was pleasantly surprised to find that it was just as good if not better.  Both books feature strong young women who know what they want and are not afraid to do whatever it takes to get what they want - in Rasmira's case she is not only a skilled warrior who trains hard to be just as good as they boys of her village, she also has a strong sense of honour, and justice.  I found the world she was in particularly appealing because it has echoes of Viking mythology, but also because it made sense (even if the monsters are somewhat creepy and scary).  

The story flows and develops, and you see Rasmira change and grow as she faces new challenges and ideas.  The characters around her also change and grow in different ways, and it is all too easy to picture her world and the people in it.  At times I was cheering for her, at other times I wanted to shake her, and other times it felt like a friend was facing danger and there was nothing I could do to stop her walking right into it.  This is a fantastic novel and while it does feel as though the story is complete, it is a world that would be worth visiting again if Levenseller happened to write more stories set in the world.

If you like this book then try:

Reviewed by Brilla

Monday, August 10, 2020

The good, the bad, and the undead by Kim Harrison

The good, the bad, and the undead is the second book in The Hollows series so this review contains ***SPOILERS***if you have not read the first book in the series.  I highly recommend that you read this series in order, so if you haven't read the other books in the series start with Dead witch walking before reading any more of this review.

Life has been rather interesting for Rachel Morgan since she left her position as a Runner for Inderland Security - not particularly profitable, but it has been interesting.  Her run of bad luck since she left the I.S has continued, with her latest run turning into a big fat disaster and way more work than she intended (not to mention risky).  It wouldn't be so bad if she was out on her own, but Ivy came with her and is depending on Rachel to do her share and pay half the rent.  When she is picked up by a detective from the Federal Inderland Bureau (FIB) so she can help with a case, the last thing Rachel would have expected to see was Trent Kalamack's personal assistant crying over a missing boyfriend.  

If she was smart Rachel would turn the case down, especially when she finds out Captain Edden wants her to go back to university to study ley line magic - but no one ever accused Rachel of being smart.  With pressure rising in her professional life, the last thing she needs is for Ivy to go all weird on her, pushing her towards becoming bonded to Ivy.  It's a step too far for Rachel, and when Ivy pushes the matter too far Rachel's boyfriend Nick starts applying all kinds of pressure too - for Rachel to move out.  As Rachel tries to balance her personal life with the task of tracking down the person killing powerful ley line witches, she finds herself dragged towards Trent Kalamack as a suspect.  As if things weren't bad enough, Rachel makes the disturbing discovery that when the demon bit her in the form of a vampire it left her open and vulnerable to vampires - because if they can bite her they can bind her, and there is nothing she can do to stop them.  It is a race against time for Rachel to figure out who the killer is, and how to stop them.

The good, the bad, and the undead carries on from the explosive start in Dead witch walking - running with some of the same themes, while introducing others.  It has been a long time since I read the series the first time around, so it has been a real pleasure getting to know all the characters again and to rediscover all the things that make the series so great.  I love the mythology of the world, there are rules at work and a logic that make it easy to get lost in the story without being jarred out by wondering what is happening or why.  Rachel is more an anti-hero than hero which makes the series more enjoyable because she has flaws and faults that make her more relateable and human.  

You can feel the different strands of the story twisting and floating into place, and there are some little hints about what is to come.  This is a fantastic urban fantasy series, on the darker side but still fantasy, and I look forward to working my way through them over the coming months as I catch up to the where the series is at now.

 If you like this book then try:
  • Omens by Kelley Armstrong
  • Summon the keeper by Tanya Huff
  • Eight million gods by Wen Spencer
  • Dark descendant by Jenna Black
  • Moon called by Patricia Briggs
  • Angel's blood by Nalini Singh
  • Cry wolf by Patricia Briggs
  • Spiders bite by Jennifer Estep
  • Alien taste by Wen Spencer
  • Blood price by Tanya Huff
  • Kitty and the midnight hour by Carrie Vaughn
  • Children of the night by Mercedes Lackey
  • Born to run by Mercedes Lackey and Larry Dixon
  • Knight of ghosts and shadows by Mercedes Lackey and Ellen Guon

Reviewed by Brilla

Monday, August 3, 2020

Dead witch walking by Kim Harrison

In the 1960s a man made virus ravaged the Earth after hitching a ride on an innocuous looking tomato killing half the population and exposing the Inderlanders - the 'creatures' that man though were only dreams and nightmares - to the general population.  Decades later the Inderlanders live alongside humans, and an uneasy truce has been struck that sees Inderland Security (the I.S) protecting and policing the Inderlanders, while the Federal Inderland Bureau (FIB) protects the humans and hunts down illegal biolabs (as well as keeping an uneasy eye on the Inderlanders).  It's not a perfect world, but it seems to work, and it means witches like Rachel Morgan don't have to hide what they really are.

Employed as a Runner by the I.S she has one job, to bring in Inderlanders who have broken the rules.  It seems simple enough, but things keep going wrong and she can never seem to please her boss.  Deciding to cut her loses, Rachel makes the call to quit the I.S - which shouldn't be a problem due to her lack of popularity, but that's not as easy as it seems, as people who try and break their I.S Runner contracts have a tendency to end up dead.  Rachel has a plan to deal with that though, plans that are rapidly scuttled when Ivy, the best Runner in the office who also happens to be a living vampire, decides to quit too and start a partnership with Rachel - which puts Rachel squarely in the cross hairs of their former boss.

Starting a new career as an independent Runner is going to be hard enough without dodging death curses and hitmen for the foreseeable future.  Rachel's only hope is to bring in a big target that will help her pay off her I.S contract, and there is no bigger target than Trent Kalamack.  Everyone in the I.S knows that Kalamack is involved with dealing Brimstone, but no one can prove it, and anytime they get close he manages to skate free.  Determined to bring him down, Rachel hatches a plan that she is sure will work.  What she wasn't counting on was the complication of living with Ivy, who as a living vampire has all sorts of interesting buttons to push that will put pressure on their working and personal relationships.  There's nothing like the pressure of being in a life and death situation to bring out the best in someone, but Rachel is about to discover that the price of success might be more than she is prepared to pay.

Dead witch walking is the first book in The Hollows series, and it is a brilliant start to a thoroughly enjoyable series.  I started reading the series years ago and then got distracted and forgot about it until recently, when I decided to reread some series and see what new series some of my favourite authors had written.  I was hooked back into the series from the start and have already ordered the second and third books in the series so I can keep going and read my way up to the current book in the series.  One of the things I love most about the series is how 'real' the world of The Hollows is - Harrison has clearly spent time thinking about the mythology of her world, and she has built up a world and a group of characters that is totally believable and relateable.  

This is not a horror series, despite the presence of witches and vampires, it is best described as an urban fantasy - though it is fair to say it is at the darker end of the scale.  This is a fantastic series (no pun intended) and the best part about discovering it now is that you can read through the books in quick order without having to wait for them to be published like I did the first time I read them!

 If you like this book then try:
  • Omens by Kelley Armstrong
  • Summon the keeper by Tanya Huff
  • Eight million gods by Wen Spencer
  • Dark descendant by Jenna Black
  • Moon called by Patricia Briggs
  • Angel's blood by Nalini Singh
  • Cry wolf by Patricia Briggs
  • Spiders bite by Jennifer Estep
  • Alien taste by Wen Spencer
  • Blood price by Tanya Huff
  • Kitty and the midnight hour by Carrie Vaughn
  • Children of the night by Mercedes Lackey
  • Born to run by Mercedes Lackey and Larry Dixon
  • Knight of ghosts and shadows by Mercedes Lackey and Ellen Guon

Reviewed by Brilla

Sunday, August 2, 2020

1st case by James Patterson and Chris Tebbetts

Angela Hoot was set for a bright career, until she blew it by being kicked out of her graduate masters programme in Computation for Design and Optimisation at MIT, after a measly two months.  She had her reasons for hacking into another students computer (very good reasons) but she's not about to tell her family about it.  It seems like all her hard work is for nothing but then her mentor, FBI Agent Eve Abajian, helps her get an internship with the FBI.  It could prove to be her dream job, especially as she gets to play with some really cool tech that is close to toys for someone like her as you can get.  The shine of the internship is somewhat tarnished when she is called to a crime scene where the whole family has been killed, most of them in a rather bloody fashion.  It is an abrupt introduction to crime scenes, but it doesn't stop Angela from diving into the case.

Being the intern is bad enough, it doesn't help that Agent Billy Keats, treats her like she needs protecting from the harsh realities of what the FBI deals with.  As Angela gets more involved with the case she becomes more than a little obsessive, especially when Eve points her in the direction of some very cool (but also very creepy) technology.  As someone who has been described as brilliant, and a prodigy, most of her life, Angela tackles the problem like it is a very personal one - refusing to give up the chase for the person responsible for the death of the young women and their families.  Getting tunnel vision is a bad thing though, because if you focus on your target too much you can miss what is happening around you, and the hunter can become the hunted.  Can Angela untangle the technology and find the killer before it is too late?

1st case was an interesting read, partly because it is so tech heavy and that is something that James Patterson tends to avoid in his books, a focus on something that not everyone understands.  I was a little worried that it would be too techie for my mother to enjoy, but she did, so the general story does a very good job of carrying you along even if you aren't that familiar about the technology.  Angela Hoot was an interesting character, she is young and enthusiastic, and she also has some pretty interesting flaws that make her an interesting and well rounded character.  Most James Patterson novels set a blistering pace, and 1st case is no exception.

The writing styles of the two authors flowed together seamlessly, making for a cohesive style without jarring or confusion (unfortunately not always the case with Patterson collaborations).  This was a nice diversion from some of the more graphic and gruesome Patterson collaborations, and also interesting to experience crime from the FBI, and a rather specialized part of the FBI, rather than jus the same old same old police perspective.  Fingers crossed for more offerings from these authors in the future.

If you like this book then try:

Reviewed by Brilla

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Safe by S.K. Barnett

I don't normally include them, but I need to include a *TRIGGER WARNING* with this book as there is reference to child abuse that could trigger memories in survivors of child sexual/physical abuse.

Twelve years ago Jenny Kristal walked our her front door to walk two houses down the road to see her bestfriend - and disappeared.  It was the tragedy that drew the community together, people helping anyway they could, from searching for Jenny and putting up posters, to making meals to support the searchers.  As hours turned into days, and then into weeks, and then years it seemed as all hope was lost that Jenny would ever come home, people moved on with their lives and her posters faded to almost nothing.  It seemed hopeless that Jenny would ever be found, and then a miracle happens - not only is she found, she is home.  

After being missing for years it is hard for Jenny to reconnect with her family - especially with her brother Ben showing open hostility and suspicion.  If only Ben knew the truth about Jenny, or maybe he does, because Jenny is not as careful as she should have been.  She has been clumsy and left open the Facebook page that Ben created, the Facebook page that gave Jenny all she needed to become Jenny, to convince her family that she really is Jenny.  All those little memories bring authenticity, and even make it easier for Jobeth to connect with Jenny, makes it easier to pretend she is Jenny.  This isn't the first time that Jobeth has become someone else, Jenny is not her first missing person, but something isn't right about the Kristal home.  'Jenny' has come home, but it seems too easy, the family too eager to accept Jenny back and carry on with their lives.  Jenny has come home, but is Jobeth safe?

Safe starts with a bang and doesn't slow down as it drags you along for a wild ride of guesses and second guesses as you try and figure out what is happening and what happened in the past.  It's a shame to have to ruin the little twist that Jobeth really isn't Jenny, but that opens the story up quickly to become a thriller that has your wondering what is going on.  This was one of the better thrillers I have read recently, it takes a relatively simple idea and turns it into something that keeps you guessing right to the end.  The characters are suitably complex and each play their part in uncovering Jobeth's story, but also current events.

This thriller is built up with different layers and different points of view, and I challenge you to figure out all the moving parts before the author delivers to final scenes.  

If you like this book then try:

Reviewed by Brilla