First Line Fridays: Nine Elms by Robert Bryndza

I have enjoyed Robert Bryndza’s thrillers in the past and was eager to read the first book in his new series, Nine Elms. The novel centres on the Nine Elms serial killer that Kate Marshall had captured when she was a young police officer. Capturing the killer led to a scandal and the dissolution of her career. Fifteen years later, Kate is working as a lecturer at a small coastal English university when a copycat killer takes up the mantle and continues the work of his idol. With her assistant Tristan Harper, Kate draws on her long-neglected investigative skills to catch a new monster.

The extract I am sharing are the first lines of one of the beginning chapters in the novel. It is at the start of the investigation and Kate is battling her past demons and her alcoholism:

“Kate didn’t remember leaving the morgue or saying goodbye to Alan. She found herself emerging from the long dank tunnel and out into the car park. Her legs moved, and the blood pumped so hard and fast in her veins that it felt painful. Everything was muffled; the sound of the busy road as she crossed. A thin mist, which was starting to manifest around the dull yellow of the streetlights. The fear she felt was irrational. It wasn’t one image, or one thought, but it consumed her. Is this fear going to finish me this one, once and for all? she thought. Her neck and back were running with sweat, but the cold air made her shiver.” (p 56, 2019, Thomas & Mercer).

I enjoyed the rest of this nail-biting story and look forward to reading more in this new series. If you enjoy mysteries and thrillers, join me in my enjoyment of this author’s work.

Would you read Kate Marshall’s story in Nine Elms?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2020

(This post is linked to It’s Not Hoarding If It’s Books and her One Line Friday challenge.)

Book Review: His & Hers by Alice Feeney

As you know, I have recently joined Netgalley and I was excited to learn that they have started to offer audiobooks to read and review. When I saw His & Hers by Alice Feeney on offer, I requested it – and was excited to see my request accepted. The synopsis suggested an intense story.

Format: Audiobook

Publication Date: 28 July 2020

Genre: Thriller, Psychological Thriller, Mystery


There are two sides to every story: yours and mine, ours and theirs, His & Hers. Which means someone is always lying.

Anna Andrews finally has what she wants. Almost. She’s worked hard to become the main TV presenter of the BBC’s lunchtime news, putting work before friends, family, and her now ex-husband. So, when someone threatens to take her dream job away, she’ll do almost anything to keep it.

When asked to cover a murder in Blackdown–the sleepy countryside village where she grew up–Anna is reluctant to go. But when the victim turns out to be one of her childhood friends, she can’t leave. It soon becomes clear that Anna isn’t just covering the story, she’s at the heart of it.

DCI Jack Harper left London for a reason, but never thought he’d end up working in a place like Blackdown. When the body of a young woman is discovered, Jack decides not to tell anyone that he knew the victim, until he begins to realise he is a suspect in his own murder investigation.

One of them knows more than they are letting on. Someone isn’t telling the truth. Alternating between Anna’s and Jack’s points of view, His & Hers is a fast-paced, complex, and dark puzzle that will keep listeners guessing until the very end.

My Thoughts:

His & Hers is a story written in a 2 person POV (point of view) and is narrated as such by two performers: Richard Armitage and Stephanie Racine. Their work is amazing and their narration encouraged me to keep listening. Their tone, pace, and pitch were perfect. Their voices drew me in and kept me engaged. The British accents suited the story as it dos take place in London and a small British village.

Not only did I enjoy the narration, the story also grabbed my attention and kept it. The author, Alice Feeney, is new to me and she definitely converted me to her work. Her story kept me interested throughout: her pacing is good and she left clues and tidbits throughout the story, encouraging me to try and solve the mystery. Often I felt I had guessed the outcome – and was confident with my thought processes. Yet she still managed to surprise me in the end! I loved that.

If you enjoy smart and twisty psychological thrillers that will keep you guessing, this novel is for you. If audiobooks are not your preference, reading the story would still be enjoyable as the images created in your mind with the author’s words would still be effective.

I give this novel ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 5 stars with no reservation.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2020

(This novels was the 100th novel in my book pledge for 2020 – can you believe it?!)

Book Review: The Silent patient by Alex Michaelides

The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides is a thriller that I picked up because of the recommendation of other bookstagrammers. I opened the novel with anticipation as I had not seen anything negative about the story.

Genre: Mystery, Thriller


Alicia Berenson’s life is seemingly perfect. A famous painter married to an in-demand fashion photographer, she lives in a grand house with big windows overlooking a park in one of London’s most desirable areas. One evening her husband Gabriel returns home late from a fashion shoot, and Alicia shoots him five times in the face, and then never speaks another word.

Alicia’s refusal to talk, or give any kind of explanation, turns a domestic tragedy into something far grander, a mystery that captures the public imagination and casts Alicia into notoriety. The price of her art skyrockets, and she, the silent patient, is hidden away from the tabloids and spotlight at the Grove, a secure forensic unit in North London.

Theo Faber is a criminal psychotherapist who has waited a long time for the opportunity to work with Alicia. His determination to get her to talk and unravel the mystery of why she shot her husband takes him down a twisting path into his own motivations—a search for the truth that threatens to consume him…

My thoughts:

I did not see the end coming of this novel – and I love that the author took me by surprise! The unexpected twist had me shaking my head in glee. The perfect ending!

Throughout the novel there are many red herrings as the author leads the reader down a certain path. I made so many guesses on what had happened; guesses which I had to re-evaluate from time to time. Slowly, Michaelides gives hints and small clues which increase an understanding of the story.

Readers are told the story from 2 POVs – that of the therapist, and that of the patient’s diary. Through the two points of view, I was introduced to how the lives of both the patient and the therapist are intertwined and how they each impact one another’s lives. The pacing of the story is perfect for this genre and the author drew me in and kept me reading.

This is definitely a thriller to pick up and enjoy. For a debut novel, it packed a punch. I look forward to reading another of this author’s novels.

I give this novel ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 4 stars

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2020

(This novel was the 45th novel in my book pledge for 2020)

Book Review: The Favourite Daughter by Kaira Rouda

Harper Collins Canada sent me an ARC copy of The Favourite Daughter by Kaira Rouda to read and review. The bookmail was timely as I was in the mood for a thriller.

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Psychological Thriller


Jane Harris lives in a sparkling home in an oceanfront gated community in Orange County. It’s a place that seems too beautiful to be touched by sadness. But exactly one year ago, Jane’s eldest daughter, Mary, died in a tragic accident, and Jane has been grief-stricken ever since. Lost in a haze of antidepressants, she’s barely even left the house…until now.

As Jane reemerges into the world, it’s clear she’s missed a lot in the last year. Her husband has been working long days – and nights – at the office. Her daughter Betsy seems distant, even secretive. And Jane receives a note warning her that Mary’s death wasn’t an accident. What really happened on the day that Mary died? And who is lying to whom in this family?

The bonds between mothers and daughters, husbands and wives should never be broken. But you never know how far someone will go to keep a family together…

My thoughts:

The story is told from the point of view of Jane Harris, a grieving mother and wife. When I began reading the novel, I definitely felt empathy for her – she had lost a daughter and it was evident that her marriage was failing. The story began like so many contemporary novels and I thought, for a moment, that the book had incorrectly been labelled ‘mystery’.

As I read on, however, I realised that not all was as it seemed. The writer adroitly reveals the true nature of Jane’s personalty as we read her thoughts. It is interesting to feel the turnabout towards a character – the Jane you think you know at the beginning of the novel is not the same woman you get to know while turning the pages.

The chapters begin with the countdown of a timeline which adds to the tension in the book and to the reader’s knowledge that an important day is approaching. I found myself thinking of what may happen on that day – Rouda brought me to a point that predictions were made; a point when I believed I knew how the novel would end. And then the unexpected happened. I loved the twist as it turned around my expectations. And then the novel ended with yet another twist!

The Favourite Daughter was an enjoyable read and is more a psychological thriller than a mere mystery. I enjoyed the twists and the unexpected ending – and seeing into the mind of a woman who feels the need to control her family.

I give this novel ⭐️⭐️⭐️ 3 stars.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

(This novel was the 42nd in my book pledge for 2019)

First Line Fridays: Beautiful Bad by Annie Ward

I type, “Should I see a therapist?”

A popular Google search, it seems. There’s a lot of information on the topic. Pages and pages of tests you can take to help you decide if therapy is right for you. If so, what kind of therapy? Psychiatrist versus psychologist? What’s your major disorder? There’s so much. I could do this all night. Once Ian leaves, maybe I will.”

Beautiful Bad by Annie Ward (2018, Harper Collins Publishers)

Beautiful Bad is a suspenseful novel which will give you a few surprises. If you are interested to learn more, you can read my review here.

Do the first lines capture your attention?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

(This post is linked to It’s Not Hoarding If It’s Books and her One Line Friday challenge.)

Book Review: I Know You Know by Gilly Macmillan

I had read a novel by Gilly Macmillan before and enjoyed it. I decided to pick up I Know You Know when I was in the mood for a psychological thriller.

Genre: Thriller, Psychological Thriller


From author Gilly Macmillan comes this original, chilling and twisty mystery about two shocking murder cases twenty years apart, and the threads that bind them.

Twenty years ago, eleven-year-olds Charlie Paige and Scott Ashby were murdered in the city of Bristol, their bodies dumped near a dog racing track. A man was convicted of the brutal crime, but decades later, questions still linger.

For his whole life, filmmaker Cody Swift has been haunted by the deaths of his childhood best friends. The loose ends of the police investigation consume him so much that he decides to return to Bristol in search of answers. Hoping to uncover new evidence, and to encourage those who may be keeping long-buried secrets to speak up, Cody starts a podcast to record his findings. But there are many people who don’t want the case—along with old wounds—reopened so many years after the tragedy, especially Charlie’s mother, Jess, who decides to take matters into her own hands.

When a long-dead body is found in the same location the boys were left decades before, the disturbing discovery launches another murder investigation. Now Detective John Fletcher, the investigator on the original case, must reopen his dusty files and decide if the two murders are linked. With his career at risk, the clock is ticking and lives are in jeopardy…

My thoughts: 

Gilly Macmillan did not disappoint. The story of the cold case led me down storylines I did not think of – right up until the end when there is an unexpected twist. As with her other novels, I Know You Know was a page turner which kept me invested in the story right until the end.

What I found interesting in this work was the way in which Macmillan told her story. She invites us to ‘listen’ to the podcast of one of the characters through which we are invited to learn about the past and what had happened twenty years ago. In addition, Macmillan uses italics to show us the character’s past action. I enjoyed seeing both present and past actions of the characters juxtaposed within the same chapter and sometimes even on the same page.

If you love thrillers and page turners, this novel would be a good choice for you. You would enjoy both the twists in the story as well as the unusual way in which Gilly Macmillan takes us back to the past.

I give this novel ⭐⭐⭐⭐ 4 stars.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

(This novel was the 91st in my 50 book pledge for 2018)

Book Review: The Perfect Girlfriend by Karen Hamilton

When I had the opportunity to attend a Harper Presents event at the Harper Collins Canada publishing houses, I received an Advanced Reading Edition of debut author Karen Hamilton’s The Perfect Girlfriend. As I enjoy reading psychological thrillers, I looked forward to reading this recommendation.

Release Date: 31 December 2018

Genre: Thriller, Psychological Thriller


Juliette loves Nate. She will follow him anywhere. She’s even become a flight attendant for his airline, so she can keep a closer eye on him.

They are meant to be.

The fact that Nate broke up with her six months ago means nothing. Because Juliette has a plan to win him back. She is the perfect girlfriend. And she’ll make sure no one stops her from getting exactly what she wants.

True love hurts, but Juliette knows it’s worth all the pain…

My thoughts: 

After reading the last sentence of the novel, I could only say ‘Wow!’ This page turner is scarily good and keeps the reader invested in the story right until the last page. Juliette encapsulates everything one would expect of a stalker and of a person determined to get what she wants. I could not believe the lengths she would go to to get what she wants. One of the things I loved about this book was the unexpected turns the novel takes. If this were a movie, I would be biting my nails!

I raced through this addictive read in a day – I just could not put it down! The main character is terrifying, and I would not want to meet her at my workplace or even in a social environment. Hamilton has impressed me with her debut novel and I look forward to reading more of her work.

I give this novel ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ 5 stars.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2018

(This novel was the 86th in my 50 book pledge for 2018)

Book Review: Bring Me Back by B. A. Paris

I decided to dip into the third B. A. Paris novel that my colleague had given to me to read – Bring Me Back, he most recent novel.

Genre: Psychological Thriller, Thriller, Suspense


Finn and Layla are young, in love, and on vacation. They’re driving along the highway when Finn decides to stop at a service station to use the restroom. He hops out of the car, locks the doors behind him, and goes inside. When he returns Layla is gone—never to be seen again. That is the story Finn told to the police. But it is not the whole story.

Ten years later Finn is engaged to Layla’s sister, Ellen. Their shared grief over what happened to Layla drew them close and now they intend to remain together. Still, there’s something about Ellen that Finn has never fully understood. His heart wants to believe that she is the one for him…even though a sixth sense tells him not to trust her.

Then, not long before he and Ellen are to be married, Finn gets a phone call. Someone from his past has seen Layla—hiding in plain sight. There are other odd occurrences: Long-lost items from Layla’s past that keep turning up around Finn and Ellen’s house. Emails from strangers who seem to know too much. Secret messages, clues, warnings. If Layla is alive—and on Finn’s trail—what does she want? And how much does she know?

A tour de force of psychological suspense, Bring Me Back will have you questioning everything and everyone until its stunning climax.

My thoughts: 

My colleague loved this title so I settled myself in for a thrilling read. B. A. Paris did not disappoint. The story was gripping, with small tidbits handed out to the reader that kept me guessing. No sooner did I think I had guessed the solution to the mystery of Layla, then the author blindsided me with another tidbit. I loved it! If this book were a film, I would have been biting on my fingernails as the tension created by her words is gripping. And the best part? The ending was not at all what a reader would expect.

Like my colleague, I am now a fan of B. A. Paris. Her fast-paced and twisty novel has convinced me that her debut novel was not a once-off thing. Instead, this is the third time that she has succeeded in causing me to leave all other things unattended and read. I am looking forward to seeing what she will bring out next.

I give this novel ⭐⭐⭐⭐ 4 stars.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2018

(This novel was the 83rd in my 50 book pledge for 2018)

Book Review: The Breakdown by B. A. Paris

I decided to pick up the second of the B. A. Paris novels that my colleague had lent me. The Breakdown was the second novel that had been published by this author. As I had enjoyed her debut novel, I was looking forward to reading this one.

Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Suspense


Cass is having a hard time since the night she saw the car in the woods, on the winding rural road, in the middle of a downpour, with the woman sitting inside—the woman who was killed. She’s been trying to put the crime out of her mind; what could she have done, really? It’s a dangerous road to be on in the middle of a storm. Her husband would be furious if he knew she’d broken her promise not to take that shortcut home. And she probably would only have been hurt herself if she’d stopped.

But since then, she’s been forgetting every little thing: where she left the car, if she took her pills, the alarm code, why she ordered a pram when she doesn’t have a baby.

The only thing she can’t forget is that woman, the woman she might have saved, and the terrible nagging guilt.

Or the silent calls she’s receiving, or the feeling that someone’s watching her…

My thoughts:

The Breakdown was an interesting read, though not as good as the debut novel written by B. A. Paris. The story begins slowly and, in the first part of the novel, the description of the main character’s thoughts (Cass) is a bit repetitive. The novel becomes interesting, however, when it is suggested that not all is as it seems, that her illness may not be what is suggested. The clues that are dropped to suggest this, encourage the reader to try and work out what is actually happening. I love reading mysteries and thrillers when the changing scenarios keep the readers on their toes, so to speak. The start of this novel does not encourage this but, once the tidbits are dropped, the reading experience of the novel improves.

As all good thrillers do, the novel ends with a twist – half of which was unexpected for me. I enjoyed reading the way in which the protagonist experiences the revelation of what had happened to her and it ends with a satisfying conclusion. I would not label The Breakdown as B. A. Paris’ best novel; but it is an enjoyable thriller nonetheless.

I give this novel ⭐⭐⭐ 3 stars.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2018

(This novel was the 75th in my 50 book pledge for 2018)

Book Review: Behind Closed Doors by B. A. Paris

I was talking books with a colleague of mine and she mentioned her favourite author, B. A. Paris. The next day she handed me the copies of her books to read and I decided to begin with the first one, Behind Closed Doors.

Genre: Thriller, Mystery Thriller, Psychological Thriller


Everyone knows a couple like Jack and Grace: he has looks and wealth, she has charm and elegance. You’d like to get to know Grace better. But it’s difficult, because you realize Jack and Grace are never apart. Some might call this true love.

Picture this: a dinner party at their perfect home, the conversation and wine flowing. They appear to be in their element while entertaining. And Grace’s friends are eager to reciprocate with lunch the following week. Grace wants to go, but knows she never will. Her friends call—so why doesn’t Grace ever answer the phone? And how can she cook such elaborate meals but remain so slim?

And why are there bars on one of the bedroom windows?

The perfect marriage? Or the perfect lie?

My thoughts:

While reading this novel, I agreed with my colleague. This novel is full of suspense and twists. I loved it! The story is given to the reader slowly and each crumb of information takes the reader down a different thought process. I enjoyed that the novel kept me guessing right up until the end.

While reading this story, I thought about how we present a different scenario to the world than the one we experience. As outsiders, we can never really know the intimate details of what happens in a person’s life and in their relationships. As this novel indicates, we can only really know what people decide to tell us. The novel also suggests the theme of domestic abuse – and how this may present itself in different ways. Behind Closed Doors is an interesting way to encourage us to think about these issues.

I enjoyed this psychological thriller by B. A. Paris and look forward to reading the next one on the pile next to my bed. This novel is definitely a page turner and I managed to complete it in one day.

I give this novel ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ 5 stars.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2018

(This novel was the 73rd in my 50 book pledge for 2018)