3 Star Books · ARC Book Reviews · Book Reviews · mystery · non fiction · suspense · True Crime

Red River Girl: The Life and Death of Tina Fontaine by Joanna Jolly | ARC #BookReview, #FirstNations #Violence #MeToo

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Red River Girl: The Life and Death of Tina Fontaine by Joanna Jolly

Rating: 3 stars 

Published: August 27, 2019 

Publisher: Viking 

Pages: 304 

Genres: non fiction, true crime, mystery

Recommend to fans of: true crime books, learning about violence against Indigenous & First Nations women, constantly learning 

 

Synopsis:

A gripping account of the unsolved death of an Indigenous teenager, and the detective determined to find her killer, set against the backdrop of a troubled city.

On August 17, 2014, the body of fifteen-year old runaway Tina Fontaine was found in Winnipeg’s Red River. It was wrapped in material and weighted down with rocks. Red River Girl is a gripping account of that murder investigation and the unusual police detective who pursued the killer with every legal means at his disposal. The book, like the movie Spotlight, will chronicle the behind-the-scenes stages of a lengthy and meticulously planned investigation. It reveals characters and social tensions that bring vivid life to a story that made national headlines.
Award-winning BBC reporter and documentary maker Joanna Jolly delves into the troubled life of Tina Fontaine, the half-Ojibway, half-Cree murder victim, starting with her childhood on the Sagkeeng First Nation Reserve. Tina’s journey to the capital city is a harrowing one, culminating in drug abuse, sexual exploitation, and death.
Aware of the reality of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, Jolly has chronicled Tina Fontaine’s life as a reminder that she was more than a statistic. Raised by her father, and then by her great-aunt, Tina was a good student. But the violent death of her father hit Tina hard. She ran away, was found and put into the care of Child and Family Services, which she also sought to escape from. That choice left her in danger.
Red River Girl focuses not on the grisly event itself, but on the efforts to seek justice. In December 2015, the police charged Raymond Cormier, a drifter, with second-degree murder. Jolly’s book will cover the trial, which resulted in an acquittal. The verdict caused dismay across the country.
The book is not only a true crime story, but a portrait of a community where Indigenous women are disproportionately more likely to be hurt or killed. Jolly asks questions about how Indigenous women, sex workers, community leaders and activists are fighting back to protect themselves and change perceptions. Most importantly, the book will chronicle whether Tina’s family will find justice.

 

Review:

Thank you to NetGalley, Viking, and Joanna Jolly for an ARC ebook copy to review. As always, an honest review from me.

Like:
– the background and non judgmental explanation of the life circumstances that led Tina and her family to their current life situations
– The detective who was working to solve her murder.

Love:
– the book brings to light the important topic of violence against First Nations women

Dislike:
– A possible dislike for some people (not for me though) — the descriptions of the crime and her body when discovered. This is to be expected since it’s a true crime book.
– Nothing specific to dislike, but nothing was particularly amazing either.

Wish that:
– It held my attention more. The overall topic is interesting, but not phenomenal in the presentation.
– The story had lived up to its potential. It was such a complex, informative, must be discussed story, but overall it read as a little boring, especially for a true crime mystery book.

Overall, an okay book about an important but terrible event that occurred in real life. I’m so glad that Tina Fontaine’s murder is being discussed in the context of violence against First Nations women. An important topic, but unfortunately this book doesn’t do it justice in my opinion.

 

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4.5 Star Books · ARC Book Reviews · Book Reviews · contemporary fiction · mystery · thriller

Whisper Network by Chandler Baker | ARC #BookReview #MeToo

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Whisper Network by Chandler Baker

Rating: 4.5 stars 

Published: July 2, 2019 

Publisher: Flatiron Books

Pages: 352 

Genres: mystery, thriller, contemporary fiction 

Recommend to fans of: office drama, modern day feminist issues, MeToo movement, issues relating to sexism and feminism in the workplace 

 

Synopsis:

Four women learn their boss (a man who’s always been surrounded by rumors about how he treats women) is next in line to be CEO—what will happen when they decide enough is enough?

Sloane, Ardie, Grace, and Rosalita are four women who have worked at Truviv, Inc., for years. The sudden death of Truviv’s CEO means their boss, Ames, will likely take over the entire company. Ames is a complicated man, a man they’ve all known for a long time, a man who’s always been surrounded by…whispers. Whispers that have always been ignored by those in charge. But the world has changed, and the women are watching Ames’s latest promotion differently. This time, they’ve decided enough is enough. 

Sloane and her colleagues set in motion a catastrophic shift within every floor and department of the Truviv offices. All four women’s lives—as women, colleagues, mothers, wives, friends, even adversaries—will change dramatically as a result.

“If only you had listened to us,” they tell us on page one, “none of this would have happened.”

 

Review:

Thank you to NetGalley, Flatiron Books and Chandler Baker for an ARC ebook copy to review. As always, an honest review from me.

Like:

  • Lots of background info and a good lead to the drama 
  • Different outlooks from different women – the accusers and the man’s wife 
  • People will have strong reactions to the book’s topics, which is great to get a discussion going 
  • Perfect for book clubs – in person or online!
  • Behind the scenes look at an investigation into sexual harassment claims 
  • Real life modern day work place issues – relatable to so many

Love: 

  • More books are discussing this topic: sexual harassment in the workplace. Men can’t get away with inappropriate behavior and the imbalance of power anymore 
  • A #MeToo topic book!
  • The camaraderie of the women in the workplace without being overbearing and anti men. The story feels very balanced and shows the perspectives of different people and different genders 
  • Several mentions of breast feeding in a positive manner. We don’t see this enough in books!
  • Really enjoyable to read; great pacing, wonderful writing, seamless plot transitions

Dislike:

  • Lots of information, but reads as a slow pace book at times – mainly during the beginning. It does level out to a much better pace about 25% of the way in. 
  • Not a dislike for me, but possibly for other people. Lots of discussions of sexual harassment, suicide, and legal issues involving these topics. 

Wish that: 

  • Captured my attention more (in the first half). It’s interesting, but with this topic feel like it could do so much more.
  • I related to the women more at the beginning of the story, since the discussion was from the POV of the accused’s wife

 

Overall, a wonderful book about modern day women in the workplace. Many issues were brought up in the context of the story. I think a lot of people will relate to and enjoy this novel. For awhile I wasn’t sure if I wanted to request an ARC copy of this book from NetGalley, but I’m so glad that I did. Definitely recommend! 

 

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3 Star Books · ARC Book Reviews · Book Reviews · mystery · thriller

The Perfect Alibi by Phillip Hargolin | ARC #BookReview

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The Perfect Alibi by Phillip Hargolin

Published: March 5, 2019 

Publisher: Minotaur Books

Pages: 320

Genres: mystery, thriller 

Rating: 3 stars 

Recommend to fans of: science and tech heavy mysteries 

Foodie Vibes: coffee to keep you awake to find out what happens 

 

Synopsis: 

A young woman accuses a prominent local college athlete of rape. Convicted with the help of undisputable DNA evidence, the athlete swears his innocence and threatens both his lawyer and his accuser as he’s sent to prison. Not long after, there’s another rape and the DNA test shows that the same person committed both rapes—which is seemingly impossible since the man convicted of the first rape was in prison at the time of the second one. Now, the convicted athlete, joined by a new lawyer, is granted a new trial and bail. Shortly thereafter, his original lawyer disappears and his law partner is murdered.

Robin Lockwood is a young lawyer with a prestigious small law firm and a former MMA fighter who helped pay for Yale Law School with her bouts. She is representing the victim of the first rape for her civil lawsuit against her rapist, who is now convinced the rapist is stalking her and trying to intimidate her. At the same time, another client is up on a murder charge—one that should be dismissed as self-defense—but the D.A. trying the case is determined to bring it to trial. Now she has to mastermind two impossible cases, trying to find the hidden truth that links the two of them.

 

Review:

Thank you to NetGalley, Minotaur Books and Phillip Hargolin for an ARC ebook copy to review. As always, an honest review from me. 

Like:

  • The premise reminds me of an episode of Law and Order SVU 
  • Short chapters: makes it easy to put down the book
  • Heavily features DNA, science and other tech — while these are not a new phenomenon, the book keeps it fresh and interesting
  • The drama, deception, lying and greed makes for an intense book

Love: 

Dislike:

  • There’s almost too much drama – which almost makes me ambivalent to the supposed to be “riveting revelations” 
  • Didn’t keep my focus well (To be fair: I was tired while reading some of the book, but that wasn’t the entire reason for difficulty focusing.)
  • The story bounced from one mystery to the next very quickly – not a fan of this

Wish that:

  • It lived up to the hype I’d created in my head

Overall, another mystery/thriller that was enjoyable but left me a little disappointed. 

 

Who else is a fan of Law and Order SVU?

#OliviaBensonIsGoals

 

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3.5 Star Books · ARC Book Reviews · Book Reviews · mystery · suspense · thriller

Never Tell by Lisa Gardner | Release Day #BookReview

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Never Tell by Lisa Gardner 

Published: February 19, 2019 

Publisher: Dutton Books 

Pages: 416 

Genres: mystery, thriller, suspense

Rating: 3.5 stars 

Recommend to fans of: her other books in the series, police procedurals, mysteries written by women 

Foodie Vibes: green smoothie with all your macros that your overbearing mother made for you 

 

Synopsis: 

A man is dead, shot three times in his home office. But his computer has been shot twelve times, and when the cops arrive, his pregnant wife is holding the gun.

D. D. Warren arrives on the scene and recognizes the woman—Evie Carter—from a case many years back. Evie’s father was killed in a shooting that was ruled an accident. But for D.D., two coincidental murders is too many.

Flora Dane sees the murder of Conrad Carter on the TV news and immediately knows his face. She remembers a night when she was still a victim—a hostage—and her captor knew this man. Overcome with guilt that she never tracked him down, Flora is now determined to learn the truth of Conrad’s murder.

But D.D. and Flora are about to discover that in this case the truth is a devilishly elusive thing. As layer by layer they peel away the half-truths and outright lies, they wonder: How many secrets can one family have?

 

Review:

Thank you to NetGalley, Dutton Books, and Lisa Gardner for an ARC ebook copy to review. As always, an honest review from me.

Like:

  • The main characters in this series (Detective D.D. Warren and Flora) – strong, intelligent female roles
  • Longish book but a quick engaging read 
  • The reveal of the killer … just wait for it!
  • The pacing of the writing 

Love: 

  • The past and the present cases coming together makes for a very great mystery 
  • Finding out what the recent murder victim really was hiding #Interesting

Dislike:

  • The mother of the victim – so over the top and somewhat unbelievable 

Wish that: 

  • The last 1/4 of the book kept my attention better – for all the action I thought I would be more engaged 

Overall, another solid mystery from the author in her D.D. Warren series. Not my favorite book of hers. But I did enjoy the return of Flora in a new role.

 

Have you read books by Lisa Gardner?

Who is your favorite mystery/thriller author? 

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2.5 Star Books · ARC Book Reviews · Book Reviews · mystery · thriller

The Moroccan Girls by Charles Cummings | ARC #BookReview

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The Moroccan Girls by Charles Cummings 

Published: February 12, 2019 

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Pages: 368 

Genres: mystery, thriller 

Rating: 2.5 stars 

Recommend to fans of: spy novels set in Europe

Foodie Vibes: coffee at an outdoor cafe and people watching 

 

Synopsis: 

Kit Carradine is the successful author of several best-selling novels. When he is approached by MI6 and asked to carry out a simple task on behalf of his country while attending a literary festival in Morocco, he jumps at the chance.

But all is not as it seems. Carradine soon finds himself on the trail of Lara Bartok, a leading figure in Resurrection, a violent revolutionary movement targeting prominent right-wing political figures around the world. Caught between competing intelligence services who want Bartok dead, Carradine faces a choice: to abandon Bartok to her fate or to risk everything trying to save her.

 

Review:

Thank you to NetGalley, St. Martin’s Press and Charles Cummings for an ARC ebook copy to review. As always, an honest review from me. 

I needed up DNFing this book about halfway through, because honestly I was bored …. Which is not something you want in a spy thriller. 

Like: 

  • The premise of using a novelist who writes thrillers, as a spy 
  • The overall atmosphere of sitting outside in a European country waiting for the action to happen

Love:

  • The cover – GORGEOUS!

Dislike:

  • Boring! For a spy thriller, there wasn’t much action happening. Granted, I ended up DNFing it at 50% of the way through, but this genre should capture my attention way before that. 

Wish that: 

  • I had more to say about the book. Nothing was bad per say, but nothing was great either. 

Overall, not the book for me. Maybe I’m the only one that feels this way, but these are my thoughts on the book. I did learn that I’m not as big of a spy thriller fan as I originally thought. So maybe that had something to do with my opinions on the book. Who knows? 

 

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How long do you wait before you DNF a book?

 

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3.5 Star Books · ARC Book Reviews · Book Reviews · mystery · thriller

Forget You Know Me by Jessica Strawser | New Release #BookReview

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Forget You Know Me by Jessica Strawser

Published: February 5, 2019

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Pages: 336

Genres: thriller, mystery 

Rating: 3.5 stars 

Recommend to fans of: characters with a chronic illness/chronic pain, secrets to try to protect others and yourself

Foodie Vibes: an anti inflammatory diet in attempts to minimize your chronic pain 

 

Synopsis: 

When a video call between friends captures a shocking incident no one was supposed to see, the secrets it exposes threaten to change their lives forever.

Molly and Liza have always been enviably close. Even after Molly married Daniel, the couple considered Liza an honorary family member. But after Liza moved away, things grew more strained than anyone wanted to admit—in the friendship and the marriage.

When Daniel goes away on business, Molly and Liza plan to reconnect with a nice long video chat after the kids are in bed. But then Molly leaves the room to check on a crying child.

What Liza sees next will change everything.

Only one thing is certain: Molly needs her. Liza drives all night to be at Molly’s side—but when she arrives, the reception is icy, leaving Liza baffled and hurt. She knows there’s no denying what she saw.

Or is there?

In disbelief that their friendship could really be over, Liza is unaware she’s about to have a near miss of her own.

And Molly, refusing to deal with what’s happened, won’t turn to Daniel, either.

But none of them can go on pretending. Not after this.

Jessica Strawser’s Forget You Know Me is a “twisty, emotionally complex, powder keg of a tale” (bestselling author Emily Carpenter) about the wounds of people who’ve grown apart. Best, friends, separated by miles. Spouses, hardened by neglect. A mother, isolated by pain.

One moment will change things for them all.

 

Review:

Thank you to NetGalley, St. Martin’s Press, and Jessica Strawser for an ARC ebook copy to review. As always, an honest review from me. 

Like:

  • The mystery, the secrets
  • The evolution of Molly’s relationship with her husband 
  • The premise reminds me of an episode of Law and Order SVU

Love: 

  • Good representation of chronic illness/chronic pain including the lack of energy, daily pain, frustration due to inability to complete all activities, loved ones not really getting it
  • Molly trying to be the best mom for her son despite her challenges and limitations 

Dislike: 

  • The lying, deception, and almost tricking of the other people – done for a reason but sometimes it crosses the line from good intentions to protecting only yourself

Wish that: 

  • Some parts made more sense

 

Overall, a good book. I especially loved that the main character deals with chronic pain. Well, I don’t love that she’s in pain, but I like the representation. We need more books like this. However, the weird secret keeping took away from my enjoyment at times. 

 

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2.5 Star Books · ARC Book Reviews · Book Reviews · mystery · suspense · thriller

What We Did by Christobel Kent | ARC #BookReview

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What We Did by Christobel Kent

Published: February 5, 2019

Publisher: Sarah Crichton Books

Pages: 320

Genres: mystery, thriller, suspense

Rating: 2.5 stars 

Recommend to fans of: revenge books

Foodie Vibes: very little food because after you do what these women did, who can eat?

 

Synopsis: 

He stole her childhood . . . she’ll take his future

Something happened, she didn’t know what, something spun, the world turning, back, back, too fast. She would be sick. Bridget put out a hand to steady herself against the wall.

Bridget has a secret–one she keeps from everyone, even her husband. One that threatens to explode when her childhood music teacher, Carmichael, walks into her dress shop. With him is a young girl on the cusp of adulthood, fresh-faced and pretty. She reminds Bridget of herself at that age, na�ve and vulnerable.

Bridget wants him away–away from her, away from that girl. But Carmichael won’t leave her alone, won’t stop stalking her. And Bridget’s not a little girl anymore. When he pushes her too far, she snaps. But what she thought was a decisive act only unravels more insidious threats–more than she could have ever imagined–and from which no one is safe, not even her family.

The bestselling British author Christobel Kent has written yet another thrilling page-turner with a twisted, riveting conclusion. What We Did is a nightmarish, impossible-to-put-down tale of the secrets we keep from our families, of chilling childhood abuse, and of long-awaited retribution.

 

Review:

Thank you to NetGalley, Sarah Crichton Books, and Christobel Kent for an ARC ebook copy to review. As always, an honest review from me. 

Like:

  • The relationship between the sisters
  • The mystery of what will happen next throughout the whole story
  • The day to day life working in a clothing store

Love: – 

Dislike: 

  • The flippancy the sisters have over serious topics
  • Despite all the drama and action, most of the time I was bored
  • All the triggers

Wish that:

-I related to the main character more, but then again based on some of her actions maybe it’s better that I don’t relate

Overall, not the book for me due to multiple reasons. Despite the promising plot, the story lacked much. 

 

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Have you read What We Did?

What did you think?

 

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4.5 Star Books · ARC Book Reviews · Book Reviews · mystery · psychological thriller · Supernatural · thriller

The Burning Island by Hester Young | New Release

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The Burning Island by Hester Young 

Published: January 22, 2019

Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons

Pages: 416

Genres: thriller, mystery, psychological thriller, supernatural

Rating: 4.5 stars 

Recommend to fans of: heartfelt psychological thrillers, twin stories, family drama, multi layered stories, mysteries with a bit of supernatural elements 

Foodie Vibes: local food for your Hawaiian vacation 

 

Synopsis: 

When her work on a high-profile missing child case exposes her fragile secret to the world, Charlie Cates is forced to flee the spotlight.

On Hawai’i’s Big Island, Charlie can escape the past whilst gazing out at breath-taking sunsets and sparkling sea.

But in spite of its beauty the island is harbouring a dark secret of its own, and people who will do anything to protect it.

The more enchanted Charlie becomes by the island’s mysteries, the bigger the theat she poses to its tranquillity. And the closer Charlie gets to uncovering the truth, the less likely it seems that she will ever leave the island alive…

 

Review:

Thank you to NetGalley, G.P. Putnam’s Sons, and Hester Young for an ARC ebook copy to review. As always, an honest review from me.

Like:

  • The premise: woman who dreams about/get vibes from people who are in danger, missing or dead
  • The supernatural/psychic elements are just enough to allow the story to happen, while still keeping the genre as mystery/psychological thriller
  • Find my Phone App playing a vital role in the investigation 

Love:

  • Slow burn mystery that ramps up at the perfect time 
  • The main character’s friend, Rae: bold, supportive, kind, encouraging
  • The setting of Hawaii … need I say more? But it’s obvious the author is familiar with the area
  • The mystery, search for a missing girl, ends up being so much better than I thought
  • The revelations at the last 1/3 of the story … OMG!

Dislike:

  • Seriously messed up families —> But that’s also what makes the book great in a messed up kind of way

Wish that:

  • There’s another book in the series, preferably a sequel to this story 
  • Learned more about the owners of the B&B
  • We could learn what happens to the cultish family’s kids in the future 

 

Overall, a wonderful mystery that’s written perfectly. A slow burn suspense that packs a big punch at the end. Definitely worth the read!

 

Bookish Question:

Is that book on your TBR list?

 

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3 Star Books · ARC Book Reviews · Book Reviews · mystery · thriller

Last Woman Standing by Amy Gentry | Release Day

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Last Woman Standing by Amy Gentry

Published: January 15, 2019

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Pages: 320

Genres: thriller, mystery 

Rating: 3 stars 

Recommend to fans of: psycho ex-girlfriends, the #MeToo Movement, revenge

Foodie Vibes: takeout delivered by a delivery app service 

 

Synopsis:

Dana Diaz is an aspiring stand‑up comedian—a woman in a man’s world. When she meets a tough computer programmer named Amanda Dorn, the two bond over their struggles in boys’ club professions. Dana confides that she’s recently been harassed and assaulted while in L.A., and Amanda comes up with a plan: they should go after each other’s assailants, Strangers on a Train–style. But Dana finds that revenge, however sweet, draws her into a more complicated series of betrayals. Soon her distrust turns to paranoia, encompassing strangers, friends—and even herself. At what cost will she get her vengeance? Who will end up getting hurt? And when it’s all over, will there be anyone left to trust?

 

Review:

Thank you to NetGalley, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, and Amy Gentry for an ARC ebook copy to review. As always, an honest review from me. 

I’m going to try a bit of different review format for this book review. Let me know what you think of it. Thanks!

Trigger Warning: sexual assault, domestic violence, murder

Like:

  • Good representation of women in comedy
  • Presents information and an opportunity to discuss different types of sexual violence
  • The twists & turns are timed very well
  • A high intensity thriller
  • Use of up to date technology in crimes
  • Main character: Dana

Love:

Dislike:

  • Revenge because of being sexually assaulted
  • Most of the plot was about getting back at the men  — made me feel incredibly uncomfortable
  • Beginning: lots of information presented all at once and seemed forced
  • The cold realization that the characters, and readers, have at the end

Wish that: 

  • There was a less intense way of proving the men sexually assaulted them
  • We were about to explore more about Dana’s relationship with her mom and other close friend
  • I could feel less uncomfortable about the main plot line, of revenge

 

Overall, a revenge thriller that will keep you reading, but if you’re like me make you feel very uncomfortable. Well written, action packed, and interesting. 

 

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Bookish Question:

Is it okay to like a character who does bad things?

 

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4.5 Star Books · ARC Book Reviews · Book Reviews · Domestic Fiction · mystery · psychological thriller · suspense

Her One Mistakes by Heidi Perks | New Release

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Her One Mistake by Heidi Perks

Published: January 8, 2019

Publisher: Gallery Books

Pages: 320

Genres: mystery, suspense, psychological thriller, domestic fiction

Rating: 4.5 stars

Recommend to fans of: great psychological thrillers, characters that you root for

Foodie Vibes: ice cream that your husband tricks your daughter into believing that she doesn’t want 

 

Synopsis: 

It all started at the school fair…

Charlotte was supposed to be looking after the children, and she swears she was. She only took her eyes off of them for one second. But when her three kids are all safe and sound at the school fair, and Alice, her best friend Harriet’s daughter, is nowhere to be found, Charlotte panics. Frantically searching everywhere, Charlotte knows she must find the courage to tell Harriet that her beloved only child is missing. And admit that she has only herself to blame.

Harriet, devastated by this unthinkable, unbearable loss, can no longer bring herself to speak to Charlotte again, much less trust her. Now more isolated than ever and struggling to keep her marriage afloat, Harriet believes nothing and no one. But as the police bear down on both women trying to piece together the puzzle of what happened to this little girl, dark secrets begin to surface—and Harriet discovers that confiding in Charlotte again may be the only thing that will reunite her with her daughter….

This breathless and fast-paced debut—perfect for fans of Big Little Lies and The Couple Next Door—takes you on a chilling journey that will keep you guessing until the very last page.

 

Review:

Thank you to NetGalley, Gallery Books, and Heidi Perks for an ARC ebook copy to review. As always, an honest review. Sorry about the late review on this ARC. A migraine prevented me from getting the reading done.

Lately the thrillers I’ve been reading have been exceptional. Her One Mistake can be added to that list. The book takes us through the horror of losing a child. The palpable fear is so intense, it’s almost indescribable. The author crafted a complex mystery that’s slowly revealed in perfect timing. The mysteries upon mysteries make for a book that I absolutely couldn’t put down. I think I read it in less than 2 days. 

I also like that the concept of gaslighting is featured. It’s not called as such, but it’s well done. The tension and suspense is perfect. I wasn’t sure if I would enjoy a book about a child being kidnapped, or if it would be too typical. However, I was pleasantly surprised at the complexity, surprise and characters. A wonderful psychological thriller that I highly recommend. 

 

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Bookish Question:

What makes a psychological thriller great, for you?

 

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