Book Review: Keeper by Jessica Moor

Hello, my name is Judith! Welcome to my blog, ReadandReview.

Keeper is the new murder mystery / thriller novel by Jessica Moor.

When Katie Straw’s body is pulled from the waters of the local suicide spot, the police decide it’s an open-and-shut case. A standard-issue female suicide. But the residents of Widringham women’s refuge where Katie worked don’t agree. They say it’s murder.‘ (Amazon)

I was immediately hooked by the opening of Keeper, and I had to keep reading.

The narrative structure was particularly good; Moor’s use of alternating narrative perspectives and flashbacks helped the story to flow well, and helped me to work out the  pieces of the puzzle – and what really happened to Katie Straw.

The book focuses heavily on themes of domestic abuse and violence against women. This is an important topic to write about, and I thought the different stories shared by characters at the women’s refuge centre were incredibly powerful, and Keeper highlights that violence and abuse can come in many forms.

Warning: If violence and domestic abuse are issues that may distress you, you may want to reconsider reading this book.

I was deeply invested in Katie’s story – more than I was invested in the police investigation. To me, the police procedural elements didn’t feel as strong. Katie’s story, however, felt raw and real and terrifying in places, and I couldn’t help feeling scared myself. The fact Katie is already dead at the start of the book made it even more tragic; we know how her story ends.

Despite this, I was still shocked by the ending. Wow.

Star Rating: 4/5 Stars

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I acquired this book for free in exchange for a review via NetGalley and Penguin Books UK.

If you would like to support my blog further, you can click my affiliate link to purchase a copy of Keeper. This means I receive a small commission if you purchase using my link.

Have you read this book? What did you think?

– Judith

Book Review: The Deep by Alma Katsu

Hello, my name is Judith! Welcome to my blog, ReadandReview.

The Deep by Alma Katsu is her newest novel, set aboard the Titanic. There is a growing sense of unease, and passengers become convinced that the ship is haunted – that someone, or something, is waiting for them, lurking in the sea. Then, they hit an iceberg. Years later, Annie Hebbley, a survivor of the Titanic, finds work aboard the Britannic, the Titanic’s sister ship. She cannot forget the fateful night when the Titanic sank, and the memories haunt her daily. Annie is convinced something sinister happened that night, and finds herself asking the question: what really sank the Titanic?

The Deep is an enjoyable mystery / ghost story with some unexpected twists, set against an interesting historical backdrop. It reminded me in style to The Lost Ones by Anita Frank.

I thought Katsu’s idea to suggest ghosts and spirits were onboard the Titanic was creative, though at times the explanations offered for these surreal supernatural occurrences were confusing to understand.

The book follows a number of different characters – some factual, some fictional. I must admit, this was lost on me as I don’t know very much about the Titanic’s passenger and crew anyway. Nevertheless, Katsu’s decision to follow a number of different characters from different social classes was a good one, as it provided fascinating, personalised perspectives of what happened in the build-up to the tragedy, and I particularly liked the characters of Annie Hebbley and Madeleine Astor.

Unfortunately, for me, The Deep was lacking in tension; the Titanic doesn’t sink until 3/4 of the way through the book and, whilst these scenes were very exciting to read, nothing particularly horrifying happens until then. If, however, you enjoy slower-paced books, this might not bother you.

Something else that “bothered” me was that, occasionally, the language or plot seemed anachronistic for the time (1912) and so characters sometimes spoke or behaved as if they were in a modern soap-opera, which made it feel less realistic.*

*Yes, I am complaining about realism in a book about ghosts onboard the Titanic. 

In summary, I thought The Deep was a good book and, even though I have made some critical comments here, I still enjoyed it.

Star Rating: 4/5 Stars

Thank you for reading my blog post! Please click ‘Like’ to support my blog, and ‘Follow’ this blog if you would like to read more book reviews like this.

If you are interested in reading this for yourself, and would like to support my blog further, you can click my affiliate link to purchase a copy of The Deep. This means I receive a small commission if you purchase using my link.

I acquired this book for free in exchange for a review via NetGalley and Random House UK, Transworld Publishers, of Penguin Books.

Have you read this book? What did you think? 

– Judith

Book Review: The Silent House by Nell Pattison

Hello, my name is Judith! Welcome to my blog, ReadandReview.

The Silent House is a compelling new crime thriller novel by Nell Pattison. It is about the Hunter family, whose baby daughter is brutally murdered in the middle of the night. However, the family members are all deaf. No one heard a thing. The police call Paige Northwood, a BSL interpreter, to assist with their investigation by interpreting for the witnesses. The local community is in shock, but Paige has her suspicions about what really happened.

I greatly enjoyed the plot and narrative style of The Silent House. The narrative alternates between the murder investigation taking place in the present day and a series of flashbacks, counting down to the time of the murder. Each flashback bolstered my understanding of the present-day investigation and revealed little details and secrets along the way, allowing me to piece together the mystery myself.

An aspect of The Silent House I found particularly interesting was the information given about BSL and the deaf community, via the narrative voice of Paige Northwood, an interpreter. This was not a topic I knew anything about previously, and so I enjoyed reading about, and learning about, sign language.

I was also struck by the difficulty of Paige’s situation; as the interpreter, she could understand the thoughts and feelings of the suspects in a way that the police officers never could, making it increasingly difficult for her to remain unbiased and professional. This then seeps into the narrative voice; Paige’s sympathies and suspicions become blurred as she gets to know those whom she is interpreting for, making her a changeable and unreliable narrator. I’m not used to this in a crime novel (usually, crime novels cast a police officer or a detective inspector as the protagonist), but I liked the unreliability of Paige’s narration.

However, the downside of casting an interpreter as the protagonist, instead of a police officer, meant that, because The Silent House is still a crime novel, Paige was constantly trying to investigate the murder herself, meddling and nosying for secret information and leads. In my opinion, this was highly inappropriate – Paige is not an investigator, and she knows a great number of the suspects personally – and the police officers expressed this repeatedly, and, every time, Paige refused to listen. Because of this, I struggled to see her as a sympathetic, or even a likeable, character.

I don’t know what a solution to this is would be, though. Would it have been better if Paige had been characterised as a police officer who also knows BSL? Or is that “too convenient” for the plot? I’m not sure.

Anyway, on the whole, I enjoyed The Silent House and would recommend if you are seeking a new, interesting crime novel this year.

Star Rating: 3/5 Stars

Thank you for reading my blog post! Please click ‘Like’ to support my blog, and ‘Follow’ this blog if you would like to read more book reviews like this.

I acquired this book for free in exchange for a review via NetGalley and Avon, a division of HarperCollins.

If you are interested in reading this for yourself, and would like to support my blog further, you can click my affiliate link to purchase a copy of The Silent House. This means I receive a small commission if you purchase using my link.

Have you read this book? What did you think?

– Judith

Book Review: A Window Breaks by C.M. Ewan

Hello, my name is Judith! Welcome to my blog, ReadandReview.

A Window Breaks is the newest thriller novel by C.M. Ewan. Tom and Rachel Sullivan are a married couple struggling to stay together, after a traumatic event threatened to rip their family apart.. A friend suggests they take a family holiday to recuperate, and so they travel to a Scottish lodge with their daughter Holly to rest, relax, and heal. However, they are awoken when they hear sounds in the night – glass smashing, a window breaking. They are under attack.

A Window Breaks was an up-and-down read. It fluctuates between really good bits and really… underwhelming bits.

It takes a small while for the Sullivan family to arrive at the Scottish lodge. Consequently, I wasn’t interested in the events leading up to this because, due to the blurb, I knew the thrills would only begin once the family were at the lodge.

However, once the break-in happens at the lodge, the book is fantastic – for a while. The Sullivan family become involved in a tense game of “cat and mouse” as they attempt to run or hide from the intruders, who wield a deadly array of weapons. They’ve come to kill. Every scene was full of tension, fear, and drama – I felt scared and excited at the same time, and I was glued to my Kindle app.

Then, the pacing slows. Sometimes, this slow pacing is used to give characters a respite, which I completely understand. At other times, in my opinion, it simply adds “filler” – time for the characters to chat or have something explained to them, in order for the vague, secondary mystery plot (which is running through the book in addition to the horror / thriller narrative) to be developed. For me, these sections dragged and spoiled the immersion of the tense, chase sequences.

A Window Breaks continues in this way, fluctuating between fast-paced thriller action and slow-paced exposition until the climax, when all secrets are revealed and mysteries are explained. It was at this point that I realised the plot wasn’t going in the direction I thought it was going. On the one hand, this meant the novel is successfully unpredictable but, on the other hand, it meant I lost interest once I realised the book wasn’t what I expected.

I’ll try not to give too much away for future readers but, in a nutshell, the ending of A Window Breaks was rather disappointing. I had been expecting a thrilling and terrifying home invasion novel – especially given the blurb, tagline, cover, and marketing. A Window Breaks was like a home invasion novel at the beginning and during the middle but, by the ending, it wasn’t much like one at all – it was a convoluted and confusing mystery thriller. I didn’t understand much of the explanations  or “plot twists” and ultimately, it wasn’t what I had hoped it would be.*

* I would have given this a 4 star rating, were it not for the mystery plot and ending. 

Star Rating: 3/5 Stars 

Thank you for reading my blog post! Please click ‘Like’ to support my blog, and ‘Follow’ this blog if you would like to read more book reviews like this.

I acquired this book for free in exchange for a review via NetGalley and Pan Macmillan.

Have you read this book? What did you think? 

– Judith

Book Review: The Guest List by Lucy Foley

Hello, my name is Judith! Welcome to my blog, ReadandReview.

I was so excited to be approved on NetGalley to read The Guest List after I read and loved her previous novel, The Hunting Party.

Well, The Guest List is even better than The Hunting Party.

The Guest List is a thrilling closed-circle murder mystery novel. On an island just off the Irish coast, guests gather for the celebrity wedding of the year. The wedding seems to go smoothly – until someone is found dead. A a furious storm approaches, leaving the guests trapped on the island – trapped with a murderer.

The Guest List was, quite simply, excellent.

The introductory chapters and characterisation were very good; I clearly knew each character’s personalities, motivations, andI was intrigued to learn what secrets they were keeping from one another. The descriptions were so vivid and immersive that I could imagine everything inside my head perfectly.

In addition, the pacing was just right throughout, and I thoroughly enjoyed my reading experience. I couldn’t put the book down, but I also didn’t want it to end!

The Guest List is full of excellent twists and turns and, due to the well-crafted chronological structure of the book, I was kept guessing until the very final chapters.

I can’t wait to buy a physical copy of The Guest List, and I can’t recommend it highly enough.

Star Rating: 5/5 Stars

Thank you for reading my blog post! Please click ‘Like’ to support my blog, and ‘Follow’ this blog if you would like to read more book reviews like this.

I acquired this book for free in exchange for a review via NetGalley and Harper Collins UK.

Have you read this book? What did you think? 

– Judith

Book Review: The Temple House Vanishing by Rachel Donohue

Hello, my name is Judith! Welcome to my blog, ReadandReview.

The Temple House Vanishing is Rachel Donohue’s debut mystery novel set in a Catholic girls’ boarding-school, Temple House. Louisa, a new pupil to the school, becomes infatuated with her charismatic art teacher, much to the jealousy of her best friend Victoria. Then, both Louisa and her teacher vanish without a trace. Twenty-five years later, a journalist sets out to uncover the truth behind the disappearances.

The Temple House Vanishing was a puzzling book to read.

The genre(s) weren’t particularly clear; despite being categorised as a mystery novel on NetGalley, I couldn’t tell if it was supposed to be a horror novel, a mystery, or a thriller – or a mix of all three. Donohue may have borrowed elements from all of these genres but, unfortunately, I can’t say I found the final result especially horrifying, mystifying, or thrilling.

However, NetGalley also identifies The Temple House Vanishing as a piece of literary fiction and I can agree with this; The Temple House Vanishing is full of complex and lyrical narration, dialogue, and description that focuses on topics such as the importance of art and philosophy. Sadly, this style is not my personal preference, though I can see why others would appreciate its poetic and artistic form.

As a consequence, I think, of this writing style, I wasn’t deeply enthralled by the plot or the characters because I was “distracted” by the narration and descriptions.

To conclude, I don’t think The Temple House Vanishing is my cup of tea. I certainly don’t think it’s a “bad book” – I’ve read plenty of positive reviews from readers who really enjoyed it. Unfortunately, it just wasn’t for me.

Star Rating: 3/5 Stars

Thank you for reading my blog post! Please click ‘Like’ to support my blog, and ‘Follow’ this blog if you would like to read more book reviews like this.

I acquired this book for free in exchange for a review via NetGalley, Atlantic Books, and Corvus.

Have you read this book? What did you think? 

– Judith

Book Review: All The Rage by Cara Hunter

Hello, my name is Judith! Welcome to my blog, ReadandReview.

All The Rage is the new crime thriller novel by Cara Hunter, which follows DI Fawley as he works on his latest case; a teenage girl is found wandering the streets, having been abducted and assaulted. Yet, the girl refuses to press charges, or even explain what happened to her. Without any co-operation, Fawley struggles to investigate the case. Then, another girl vanishes.

All The Rage has a strong opening and a good prologue. This, for me, is an especially important positive as I am normally not keen on prologues – at all. However, Hunter’s writing had me hooked immediately.

Overall, it was a reasonable crime novel. Throughout the book, there were a variety of dead ends, false leads, and changes in the investigation which kept the narrative unpredictable and interesting.

All The Rage introduces a large number of different characters though – including a variety of police officers, which meant it was confusing and somewhat overwhelming to keep track of everybody and remember their characterisation. After reading some other NetGalley reviews which voiced similar concerns, I realised the likely reason for this is that All The Rage is actually the fourth book in a series – this explains why I didn’t feel “up to speed” with the characters. Admittedly, it is advertised as ‘DI Fawley Book 4’ on Amazon, though I was disappointed to find this is not mentioned anywhere on the NetGalley page, which is where I first came across the book.

As a result, I don’t think I could recommend this book as a standalone crime novel. This is a shame because I’ve read other books in the past which have been part of a series I’ve never read and still had no trouble picking up the characters, themes, and plot strands from earlier books.

However, if you have read and enjoyed the previous books in Cara Hunter’s ‘DI Fawley’ series, I am sure you would also like All The Rage.

Star Rating: 3/5 Stars 

Thank you for reading my blog post! Please click ‘Like’ to support my blog, and ‘Follow’ this blog if you would like to read more book reviews like this.

I acquired this book for free in exchange for a review via NetGalley and Penguin Books.

Have you read this book? What did you think? 

– Judith


This post was last updated in January 2020.