book review, Uncategorized

Book Review: “Closer Than You Think” by Lee Maguire

41053893Dr. Bryce Davidson is a well-respected psychologist who is struggling through a divorce. When a new patient shows up in the hospital he is working at, things take a sinister turn as he begins to receive threatening messages and “gifts” from an unknown stalker.

Closer Than You Think (A Broken Minds Thriller) is the debut novel from author Lee Maguire.

Closer is a tense thriller that weaves an interesting narrative from start to finish. Since it is written in first-person POV, we’re along for the ride with Dr. Davidson as he tries to unravel the mystery of his threatening and enigmatic stalker. He’s a sensitive and likable guy, but not without faults. As tension rises, his paranoia and anxiety begin to take their toll. Even a nightly stroll with Max, his beloved basset hound, becomes an exercise in fear.

Maguire does a great job of keeping the reader guessing. As the story progressed, I was pulled into Dr. Davidson’s thoughts. While he checked potential suspects “off the list”, it became harder and harder to determine what was reality, or some sort of paranoid delusion. The added cast of characters including his co-workers and creepy apartment groundskeeper are well fleshed out, and make for a believable mystery for Bryce to weave his way through.

I also need to comment on the accurate use of psychology and healthcare terms. Maguire’s own experience in the field and research really shined through in the prose.

While Closer Than You Think leads to a satisfying conclusion (no spoilers!) I have to say there were a few parts where the story dragged a bit. I also caught a few more grammar and spelling errors than I would have liked, but nothing so egregious that I was pulled out of the story.

Overall I can recommend Closer Than You Think as a strong debut offering, to anyone who enjoys psychological thrillers or the cat-and-mouse tension of a tale involving stalkers.

What I Liked:

  • Likable and engaging protagonist.
  • Complex, but follow-able, plot
  • Good use of tension, paranoia

What I Didn’t Like:

  • Story dragged a bit in places
  • Book could have used another line-editing pass

 

Note: A review copy of Closer Than You Think was generously provided by TCK Publishing in exchange for an honest review. Check them out on Facebook and Twitter

 

book review

Book Review: “Kind Nepenthe” by Matthew V. Brockmeyer

nepenthe

I haven’t picked up a thriller in a while.

I snagged a copy of Kind Nepenthe after checking out some reviews and having a quick back-and-forth with author Matthew V. Brockmeyer on Twitter. I was interested in the idea of a supernatural horror story that is based in part on true events.

I wasn’t disappointed.

Kind Nepenthe follows the story of Rebecca, a California post-hippy, who lives in a remote Northern California mountain town along with her daughter Megan and boyfriend Calendula. The three of them are roped into running a marijuana growing operation “off the grid” for an unscrupulous drug dealer named Coyote. This particular area is named “Homicide Hill” which is a not-so-subtle reference to some terrible events in its checkered past.

On another part of the mountain, a meth dealer named “Diesel Dan” is trying to straighten his life out while expecting his first grandchild. Circumstances involving his son DJ, and DJ’s girlfriend Katie, make this more difficult than he’d like though.

Throughout the story, there are strands of the supernatural at play. Brockmeyer teases visions and interactions with ghosts, so the characters aren’t sure if the place is haunted or whether they are going crazy from isolation and drugs.

Kind Nepenthe is a slow burn. It’s plot unfolds at a very leisurely pace, and gives you a large amount of backstory for almost the entire cast. While this is great for character development and realism, I can see some readers being put off by the lack of consistent action. The real meat of the conflict is in the third act, but it takes a while to get there. Plus, the first two acts imply a major conflict between the two casts of characters, which ultimately never happens, as the ending veers off into a different and unexpected direction.

Kind Nepenthe is well written tale of horror and suspense, with a very interesting setting. If you enjoyed The Shining or Mr. Splitfoot then you should probably check it out.

What I Liked:

  • Strong character development
  • Interesting setting and backdrop
  • Some well-placed literary horror references

What I Didn’t Like:

  • Pacing could have been better
  • No major conflict between the main characters seemed like a missed opportunity
  • The ending is very quick and relies on Epilogue
book review

Book Review: “Good As Gone” by Amy Gentry

Thirteen-year-old Julie Whitaker was kidnapped from her bedroom in the middle of the night, witnessed only by her younger sister. Her family was shattered, but managed to stick together, hoping against hope that Julie is still alive. And then one night: the doorbell rings. A young woman who appears to be Julie is finally, miraculously, home safe. The family is ecstatic—but Anna, Julie’s mother, has whispers of doubts.  She hates to face them. She cannot avoid them. When she is contacted by a former detective turned private eye, she begins a torturous search for the truth about the woman she desperately hopes is her daughter. 

51r-+GWWHmLGood As Gone showed up under “New and Notable” in my Kindle Prime Reading, and I downloaded it since I occasionally branch out into other genres to mix things up. I don’t normally read suspense thrillers, but I enjoyed this one all the way through, despite a few flaws.

The story is well written, and moves between the protagonist, Anna Whitaker, and a few other characters. This is broken up between chapters, so it doesn’t get confusing, although toward the end of the story there is a lot of jumping around and “perspective shifts” which I won’t go into more detail on since it borders on spoilers. Suffice to say, I had to re-read a few pages to make sure I knew what was going on.

Gentry’s writing is solid, and she crafts a dark, believable tale that should satisfy fans of the genre and anyone looking for a gritty suspense story. It’s a quick read with very little filler, and only lagged briefly in a few spots. It was also refreshing that this appears to be a standalone novel, since so many thrillers are huge series.

If you’re interested in Good As Gone you can buy it using the affiliate link below, which helps to support my blog.

Good as Gone: A Novel of Suspense

What I Liked:

  • Strong story pacing, excellent characterization
  • Interesting perspective shifts
  • Complete story arc. No cliffhangers

What I Didn’t Like:

  • Perspective shifts became confusing at some points late in the story
  • A key subplot dragged a bit midway through
  • This piece of the publisher blurb that I initially spared you from. “Propulsive and suspenseful, Good as Gone will appeal to fans of Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train, and keep readers guessing until the final pages.” Makes me speculate they pressured the author into that title due to its similarity