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August 12, 2020

3 Books for Fans of Psychological Suspense

by Susan Roberts

I enjoy reading suspense novels especially since they bring some excitement to my 'shelter in place'  life.  Here are three suspense novels that I read during my time at home.
Amazon affiliate links are used on this site. Free books were provided for an honest review.

You Can't Catch Me by Catherine McKenzie 

You Can't Catch Me
June 2020; Lake Union Publishing; 978-1542019033
audio, ebook, print (323 pages); women's fiction
"I'm sitting in an airport bar.  They're sad places,  I've found, full of people who are waiting out flight delays or long layovers - whatever excuse they want to use to drink in the daytime."
  (loc 91)

You Can't Catch Me is another great thriller from Catherine McKenzie.  Once you read the first page you enter into a roller coaster ride with lots of twists and turns along the way.  Just when you think you have everything figured out, she throws in another twist and you realize you were wrong - very wrong.  I didn't figure this one out until the bombshell was released near the end.

Jessica escaped from a cult as a young teenager and Liam helped her re-enter real life again. He remains one of the most important people in her life and reluctantly agrees to help her - but her plans go way beyond his comfort zone.   As the book begins, she has just lost her job as a reporter for plagiarism.  She is sitting in an airport bar waiting for a flight to Mexico for a vacation hoping that the stories about her will disappear by the time she gets back.  Imagine her surprise when she finds out the woman next to her has the exact same name and birthday as she does.  They play 20 questions to look for other similarities in their lives and talk about where they grew up, their mother's maiden names, etc. Imagine the surprise when Jessica gets back from a week with no social media and finds out that all of her money has been withdrawn from her account.  She suspects who did it but can't get help from the bank or the police so she starts trying to solve the problem on her own.  She begins to look for other women with the same name and finds several who have also been conned by the same person who stole her money.  She and the other Jessicas set a trap to catch the thief.  But how far will she go to get revenge?  The results may surprise you but it all made sense in the context of the novel.

This is a fantastic thriller that will keep you up late into the night while you quickly turn the pages to find out if Jessica succeeds with her clever cat and mouse game to catch the thief.

Buy You Can't Catch Me at Amazon

The Safe Place by Anna Downes

The Safe Place
July 2020; Minotaur Books; 978-1250264800
audio, ebook, print (368); domestic thriller
"'Like it?'  She was lost for words. She felt like Dorothy stepping out of her monochromatic world into the Technicolor world of Oz - so much so that she expected munchkins to crawl out from between the flowers and start singing.  She shook her head marveling at the speed with which her life had changed.  Rock bottom one minute and the next minute...this.
'I love it', she said as the gates closed behind her.  "I never want to leave.'" (p 5)

Welcome to paradise...will you ever be able to leave?

This debut novel by Anna Downes is a great psychological suspense novel.  Parts of it were predictable but there were enough surprises to make it a great read.  The main characters are all a bit creepy and I found it difficult to like a couple of them but Emily is young and very naive and I found myself rooting for her in the last half of the novel.  

Emily's life is a mess - she has lost her job, gotten an eviction notice from her landlord,  keeps getting rejected from the acting auditions she has been going on plus lost her agent.  She is an only child and isn't close to her parents or have any friends.  What is she going to do now?

Until...she gets handed the perfect job at an estate in the south of France by Scott, the CEO of the company that she just got fired from.  He wants her to live with his wife and daughter and be housekeeper,  landscaper, lawnmower, nanny, painter, cook, etc.  She decides to take the job offer - what does she have to lose and flies to the estate in a private jet.  She's amazed at the beauty of the estate but wonders about the isolation of it and the fact that there is no internet, no wifi, and no phones to get in touch with the outside world.  She enjoys her time with Nina and Aurelia but as time goes on, she begins to wonder why Aurelia acts so strangely - what is really wrong with the child and Nina's response to her daughter is also questionable.  But soon Emily realizes that Scott and Nina are hiding dangerous secrets, and if she doesn't play along, the consequences could be deadly.  

I enjoyed this novel and the way that it ended.  Scott and Nina are both strange characters and there is clearly something majorly wrong with Aurelia.   Emily is a mess at the beginning of the book but gets stronger as her life at the estate keeps getting weirder. Will any of them get out unscathed?

Buy The Safe Place at Amazon

The Vacation by T.M. Logan

The Vacation
July 2020; St. Martin's Press; 978-1250270771
audio, ebook, print (384 pages); domestic thriller
"If I'd known what was coming, what we were driving toward, I would have made Sean stop the car and take us straight back to the airport.  I would have grabbed the steering wheel myself, forced the car off the road and made him do a U-turn right there.
But I didn't know."  (p 1)

Four best friends from college decide to take a vacation in the south of France to celebrate their 40th birthdays.  I knew there was going to be trouble when they brought their husbands and children along on their vacation which to me a is big no-no - if you are going to vacation with your friends - leave the husbands and kids behind!  What I didn't realize was how terrible this vacation was going to be for everyone - even the kids.

-Kate is married to Sean and they have two kids.  They are happily married but Sean has been acting different lately and when Kate gets into his phone, she finds some text messages that not only is Sean having an affair but it is with one of the women on the trip with them.  Her main goal for the trip becomes trying to find out which of her friends has broken their trust.
-Rowan and Russ have a 5-year-old spoiled daughter.  Rowan spends most of her time on the phone with work issues.
-Izzy is unmarried but she is also acting differently on this trip.
-Jennifer and Alister have two teenage sons who are wild, disrespectful, and secretive.

So we have four long term girlfriends who don't really want to admit how much they've changed since college, husbands who don't really get along and 5 kids - three of whom are teenagers at their worst.  Each family has secrets - secrets within the families and secrets from the outside world.  These are some majorly dysfunctional families.  There were times in the novel that I disliked all of the characters but once I got to know them better and to understand their motivations, they all became a bit more likable.  

The main question is which one of Kate's friends is having an affair with her husband and she suspected each of them at one time during her search.  As she works harder to get to the truth, she finds out that the stakes are far higher than she ever imagined... Because someone in the villa may be prepared to kill to keep their secret hidden.

This book was full of twists and turns and even though I figured out some of the plot, the last 25 pages of the book were a complete surprise to me.  It's a story of friendship, marriage, children, and trust.  Can you really trust your best friends, spouse, or children to tell you the whole truth and nothing but the truth?

I thought that this was a roller coaster ride of a book with lots of secrets gradually coming to light.  It kept me turning pages to find out who was really responsible and had an ending that was a real surprise.  This book is so good that I've decided to read this author's earlier books.

Seven Days, Three Families, One Killer...

Buy The Vacation at Amazon

Susan Roberts lives in North Carolina when she isn't traveling. She and her husband enjoy traveling, gardening and spending time with their family and friends. She reads almost anything (and the piles of books in her house prove that) but her favorite genres are Southern fiction, women's fiction, and thrillers. Susan is a top 1% Goodreads Reviewer. You can connect with Susan on FacebookGoodreads, or Twitter

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