All three of these books were some time of thriller or suspense. I enjoyed them all, although they were very different from one another. I did a read/listen with each of them and enjoyed both formats. Each book was provided to me by the publisher upon request. The ratings and opinions shared are my own.
The Hidden by Melanie Golding, Penelope Rawlins (Narrator)
Published November 9th 2021 by Crooked Lane Books, Dreamscape Media
4 Stars: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
The Hidden was a book that I raced through, wanting to know what happened and if Leonie would be safe and happy. This story takes Celtic lore and weaves it into a psychological thriller/police procedural. Ruby is a single woman who watches the man in the apartment across the way. When she gets to know him, she finds out that he married and has a toddler. Constance, his wife is mentally unstable, thinking she is a Selkie and is being held hostage, because Gregor won’t give her back her sealskin coat. As Ruby begins to stay with Constance and her daughter, Leonie, when Gregor is at work, she gets to know her and believe her stories. They hatch a plan to allow them to escape and Ruby is going to help. Things do not go according to plan, the police get involved with an abandoned child and someone tries to kill Gregor. Ruby is on the run and things unfold quickly.
I enjoyed this story with its thriller, fantasy and family storylines. The Hidden is told from various points of view with different characters as well as different times, so it is important to pay attention. The mythology was woven into the story well, and it had me believing it at various times in this story. I loved both Ruby and DS Joanna Harper, who are actually related. When Joanna is removed from the case, her skills really shine. She is able to figure things out and is a step ahead of the department. Ruby just wants to protect Leonie and Constance, but it also becomes a race to keep herself safe as well. I found the story flowed well as it changed between characters and also as it flashed back to show the reader how we ended up with the two crimes that are being investigated in the present. everything came to be that day. The story was definitely a compelling one as I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough to see how the investigation and the fantasy side would turn out. I read this book whenever I was able to sit down, and listened to the audiobook when I was cooking, doing dishes etc. Both formats were highly entertaining. Penelope Rawlins was the narrator and did a fine job with this story. She gave unique voices to the characters using tone, expression and accents. I have listened to another book voiced by this talented narrator and loved her performance. I will not hesitate to listen to her work in the future.
Rock Paper Scissors by Alice Feeney, Narrated by Richard Armitage & Stephanie Racine
Published September 7th 2021 by Flatiron Books, Macmillan Audio
5 Stars: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Adam and Amelia Wright are a couple who are struggling in their marriage. Jack is a wanna be novelist as well as a successful screenwriter who has facial blindness. He hates large gatherings, because he doesn’t recognize who is heading his way. Amelia stays by his side and whispers their names to Adam so he is prepared. Amelia works at a dog rescue and loves animals more than humans. Every year on their anniversary, Adam’s wife writes him a letter, but doesn’t give it to him. Now celebrating their tenth anniversary, they need to do something to save their relationship. Amelia is thrilled that she won a weekend trip to a lodge in Scotland, an eight hour drive from their home in London, she is hoping this will give them a reset. Adam is not nearly as happy as Amelia, especially with a snowstorm coming. When they finally arrive, they find the “lodge” turns out to be a former church with stained glass windows that has been renovated into a private home. No one is there to let them in and it is obvious it has not been lived in for years with its dusty furniture and cold stone interior. Only one room is unlocked and it is the bedroom, there is a wine cellar in a crypt, but the freezer is stocked. The only heat is the fireplace and a snowstorm is raging. There is also someone watching them. Who is watching, why have they been lured here and what secrets are they keeping from one another?
Oh my! I do not want to give anymore away about this story. I will tell you that both Adam and Amelia are unreliable narrators, both have secrets they are keeping, and both are getting tired of their marriage. The story starts slowly, but it quickly speeds up and had me captivated. The characters were well described but I I didn’t like any of them, however, I still enjoyed this story, which for me is the sign of a well written story. The novel is narrated by both Adam and Amelia as well as a third person “Robin”. Her identity isn’t revealed until the end of the book after a few twists had my head swiveling. I have to mention Bob, the dog, who is the one character I did like and I’m happy to say no harm comes to him! If you love a psychological thriller that will keep you guessing until the end, then Rock Paper Scissors is for you. This is another of those books that I did a read/listen with. I didn’t want to stop enjoying this book so did both. The narration by Richard Armitage and Stephanie Racine was excellent. I loved the tone and expression used for the characters, bringing the atmosphere and emotion to life. I definitely recommend either format, but I really enjoyed the audiobook.
The Woman on the Pier by B.P. Walter, Narrated by Stephanie Racine & Luke Francis
Published November 11th 2021 Harper Collins UK Audio, One More Chapter
4 Stars: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Caroline Byrne is a successful TV script writer and a grieving mother. Her sixteen year old daughter, Jessica, was killed in a shocking terrorist attack at Stratford Station in London. Why was she even there, she was supposed to be in Somerset with a friend. Caroline’s marriage is also on the rocks. Things were tense before Jessica’s death, but they are worse now. Three months later, and Caroline still doesn’t understand why Jessica had lied to them and why she was in London on that fateful day. She decides to go through her daughter’s phone, and see if there are any clues. What she finds surprises her. Jessica was supposed to meet a boy that day, one she had been talking to online, but he never showed up. Caroline has a mission, this Michael is the reason that Jessica is dead and she is going to make him pay.
There were highs and lows in this story. The first half of the book tells us the story of the Byrne family. We learn about their relationships and their problems. Jessica pits her parents against one another to get what she wants, but this causes a rift between them. Jessica is also the glue that holds the family together. Jessica’s death shatters Caroline and she becomes a bit unhinged. She is having an extremely difficult time dealing with her grief and Alec is no help at all. She needs someone to blame and “the boy” aka Michael is her target. Once Caroline finds out who Michael is, the story takes an even darker turn. We hear his story and it was heartbreaking. The story is told from both Caroline’s and the boy’s POV, which fleshes out the story using realistic events that were occurring at the time the story is set. I’m not sure if I would describe this book as a thriller, in fact I don’t know what genre this would fit. It is populated with unlikable characters and people who’s persona and reactions are the result of things that happen to them, but I couldn’t help but feel empathy towards them. There are lies and secrets that will change lives. It was a well written and well paced story. I will leave it with this description, a story of a family disintegrating, grief, senseless deaths, lies and secrets, revenge and abuse. I listened to the audiobook narrated by Stephanie Racine and Luke Francis. I always enjoy when there are both male and female narrators to give voice to the characters. Both narrators did a good job bringing the story to life and it added to my enjoyment of the story.
Trigger warning – Child Sexual Abuse (it is not graphically described, but present several times)