Mystery/Thriller

ARC Mini-Reviews: Thriller Edition 2

My mini-reviews are of thriller ARCs: The Sister-in-Law by Sue Watson, Lies Lies Lies by Adele Parks, and The Perfect Son by Lauren North


Yes, I know, I read a ton of thrillers. Can you blame me? There’s just something so exciting about getting shocked by a plot twist and being scared or worried over a character!

However, this genre can really be a hit or a miss for me. Sometimes, I find something absolutely amazing. Other times, I’m left frustrated and disappointed. Either way, I keep coming back for more … which means, you’ll keep finding more thriller reviews from me. These ARCs will count towards ARC August, a monthlong readathon hosted by Read.Sleep.Repeat. The Day I Disappeared and Three Perfect Liars will also count towards Trope-ical Readathon, hosted by Jenny @ Jenny’s Review Blog.

The Sister-in-Law by Sue Watson: Taut with Tension

The Sister-in-Law book cover

The Sister-in-Law

by Sue Watson

Published January by Bookouture Publishing
ISBN: B084KY9P8C

Data from Goodreads

‘You don’t think Jamie and I have secrets, do you? No, we tell each other everything.’ She smiled. ‘Including your dirty little secret. So, thinking about it, maybe it’s time to start being nice to me?’

THE WIFE: Clare is ready for a break. It’s been a tough year and now she wants to put her feet up. Arriving at the Italian villa for their summer holiday, she decides it’s high time her husband and his family did some of the work. After all, her husband owes her…

THE HUSBAND: Even though Dan had his head turned by someone else, he’s realised the error of his ways. He’s here now, and he says it’s for keeps. Clare can trust him, can’t she? At least he’ll have his brother there, to keep him in line…

THE BROTHER: Jamie is the prodigal child, back in the family fold again, after years of travelling abroad. But when he gets to the villa, he’s not alone. He’s brought a wife, someone none of them have met before.

THE SISTER-IN-LAW: Ella is everything Clare isn’t. Glamorous. Young. Influential. But she knows a secret about Clare. Something that has the power to break the whole family apart.

And there’s someone who will do whatever it takes to make sure that this deep secret never comes to the surface.

TW: death, infidelity

I have mixed feelings about this novel. The story, told from Clare’s perspective, showed how easily an idyllic vacation can spin out of control. The way the author created and maintained the tension throughout the story was great; I was always wondering what would happen next. However, the payoff wasn’t that great because the telling vs. showing made the revelations anti-climactic. All of the characters were very one-dimensional, which didn’t help me connect with them. The ending was also extremely abrupt and took me by surprise; the last few sentences both seemed to promise a sequel while also being extremely vague. What was the author trying to get at? (Click to reveal spoiler) How is Clare going to get revenge – and why does she want to suddenly be a champion for women?. It was quite out-of-the-blue and took away from my enjoyment of the novel.

Lies Lies Lies by Adele Parks: The Thrills Are Secondary

Lies, Lies, Lies book cover

Lies, Lies, Lies

by Adele Parks

Published August 4th 2020by MIRA
ISBN: 0778360881

Data from Goodreads

Daisy and Simon’s marriage isn’t what it seems…

After years together, the arrival of longed-for daughter Millie sealed everything in place. They’re a happy little family of three.

So what if Simon drinks a bit too much sometimes—Daisy’s used to it. She knows he’s just letting off steam. Until one night at a party things spiral horribly out of control. And their happy little family of three will never be the same again.

TW: alcoholism, rape, harassment, child abuse

This story is told in alternating voices of a husband and wife. For almost half of the novel, the story focuses on alcoholism and how it affects the lives of others. While depicted well, it got repetitive. But then the novel suddenly becomes a thriller. It was a jarring experience and I wish the author had just made this more of a domestic story. As abruptly as it began, the thriller ended. I felt like I had read 2 books in one, and neither book was that great.

The Perfect Son by Lauren North: Dealing with Grief

The Perfect Son book cover

The Perfect Son

by Lauren North

Published August 13th 2019by Berkley
ISBN: 1984803840

Data from Goodreads

When Tess Clarke wakes up in the hospital the day after her son Jamie’s eighth birthday, she’s sure of these things: She’s been stabbed, her son is missing, her brother-in-law and her grief counselor are involved. But no one is listening to her.

After her husband, Mark, died suddenly in a terrible accident a few months earlier, the only thing keeping Tess together is Jamie. As they struggle to make sense of their new life without Mark, they find joy in brief moments of normalcy like walking to school and watching television together. Life is hard without Mark, but Tess has Jamie, and that’s what matters.

But there in the hospital, confused and surrounded by people who won’t listen, Tess’s world falls apart. To save her son, she must piece together what happened between Mark’s death and Jamie’s birthday, but the truth might just be too much for her to bear.

TW: death of a family member

This was a very interesting story. I liked the use of mixed media, with transcripts from interviews showing different perspectives. However, this novel focused more on dealing with grief than being a thriller. I think the author did a wonderful job depicting Tess and her struggles to move on after her husband’s death, raising her son all by herself.  There are twists involved as Tess becomes suspicious of the motives of others, and I was very engrossed in the story. Overall, I quite enjoyed this story with its well-developed MC and its themes.

The Day I Disappeared by Brandi Reeds: Typical Thriller

The Day I Disappeared book cover

The Day I Disappeared

by Brandi Reeds

Published August 25th 2020by Lake Union Publishing
ISBN: 1542006554

Data from Goodreads

Three months after four-year-old Holly Gebhardt was kidnapped, she was inexplicably returned to the same park from which she’d vanished…with no memory of the ordeal. Though a local handyman was convicted, suspicion also fell on his friend—Holly’s mother, Cecily. The troubling doubts about her involvement shattered the family, forever driving a wedge between mother and daughter.

Twenty years later, another girl goes missing under eerily similar circumstances. It’s just the latest in a series of kidnappings that Detective Jason Guidry thinks Holly can help solve. Though Holly has tried to move on with her life, a young girl’s life hangs in the balance. All she has to do is try to remember…

With her memory still mostly blank, Holly is missing vital pieces of the puzzle, and she believes her mother can put them in place. In desperation and fear, Holly and her mother come together again. But in a chilling rush toward the past, Cecily still has secrets she’s yet to share with her daughter. Should she dare to breathe a word, she could lose Holly all over again.

TW: child abduction, alcoholism, murder

This is a fairly typical thriller, and not really that new. You’ve got your unreliable narrator, multiple POVs, and plenty of twists to keep you interested. I thought the pacing was good, and the author had an easy-to-follow writing style that kept the tension. However, I didn’t actually like any of the characters. The relationships between our MC and other characters were very fake and the interactions weren’t believable. There were also quite a few details that were unnecessary. Overall, a quick read – while it wasn’t too bad, it didn’t blow me away with its originality.

Three Perfect Liars by Heidi Perks: Important Theme, Not Great Story

Three Perfect Liars book cover

Three Perfect Liars

by Heidi Perks

Published June 9th 2020by Gallery Books
ISBN: 1982139935

Data from Goodreads

Laura has returned to work at Morris and Wood after her maternity leave, only to discover that the woman she brought in to cover for her isn’t planning on going anywhere. Despite her close relationship with the agency’s powerful CEO, Harry Wood, she feels sidelined—and outmaneuvered—as she struggles to balance the twin demands of work and motherhood.

Mia was only supposed to be a temporary hire at Morris and Wood, but she’s managed to make herself indispensable to everyone. Everyone, that is, except Laura. If people only knew why she was so desperate to keep her job, they might not want her to stay.

Janie gave up everything to support her husband and the successful agency he runs. But she has her own dark secret to protect…and will go to any lengths to keep it safe.

TW: mention of rape, sexual harassment 

This novel has a central feminist theme that focuses on discrimination against women in the workplace. Specifically, this novel talks about how women have to work harder than men for the same achievement, and once women start to have children, they are expected to focus more on their family than their career. I’m glad that the author brought these things up because as a society, we need to recognize and correct this disparity and unfair expectation on women. But that’s all I really liked about this book. The sections with police interviews were unrealistic, I didn’t like Laura’s personality, and none of the other characters had much to offer. The plot “twist” came out of nowhere and really didn’t make sense considering the first half of the book had no connection to it. Although the author brings interesting and relevant viewpoints for discussion, the actual story didn’t work for me.

So there you have it! I can’t believe I’ve gotten through so many thrillers… but there will definitely be more to come up in the future!

Have you read any thrillers lately?

What would you recommend to me?

Let me know in the comments!

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6 thoughts on “ARC Mini-Reviews: Thriller Edition 2

  1. I love a good thriller too but I’m so fussy about which ones I’ll read because like your reviews show- they can get easily repetitive. Im all about MW Craven and Steve Cavanaugh at the moment 🙂

    1. Ohhh I haven’t read anything by either one of them – I’ll definitely check them out! Right now, I’ve realized I’ve got more than 100 thriller ARCs in my Netgalley to get through so hopefully, I find some gems among them!

        1. Ahaha yeah I seem to attract tons of thrillers and then I have to scramble to get through them all. Hopefully, people like the mini-review format enough that I can continue to do them for these thrillers!
          I am also verifiably crazy, I don’t even want to tell you how many ARCs I have on Netgalley

          1. I do enjoy a good mini review, especially multiple like this post. 👌 i think when you’ve got that many books too catch up on its def understandable to do them this way.

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