I’ll Be Watching You – Courtney Evan Tate Quick Review

I’ll Be Watching You - Courtney Evan Tate Quick Review
I’ll Be Watching You – Courtney Evan Tate Quick Review

I’ll Be Watching You – Courtney Evan Tate Quick Review

Emmy Fisher lives with her 15 year old daughter Leah in a small Florida town where she owns and runs a beach-side inn. They live quiet and idyllic, uneventful lives. Mother and daughter sharing a close bond. When one day Leah goes out into the water and never returns, Police rule her death a drowning despite not finding a body. But Emmy finds that, despite their closeness, Leah did not share everything with her and her dark secrets might be the reason she’s disappeared.

I’ll Be Watching You is told between mother and daughter in present and past. The story is easy to follow despite the frequent POV shifts and time jumps. Tate’s writing really pulls through what is a pretty saturated story and genre. This standard light mystery has a fast paced, to the point, tight plot and gets dark and twisted in a hurry. It turned out to be another of the few books I’ve devoured in one sitting this year.

Both POV’s build tension. The mother’s POV emotionally touching and gut wrenching at times as she deals with grief and the motherly instincts to protect her daughter. The daughters piles questions for the reader and though she makes some infuriating decisions is rounded off with a good dose of growth by the end of the book. Both experiences are told and felt with a level of authenticity and relatability.

The end reveal was not super surprising but was satisfying. There are so many adult males in Leah’s life that the suspect list is lengthy but there are clever tells and diversions throughout. The ending itself was warm and satisfying despite the delve into a few hard to believe places. Did I need the forced relationship in the end? Probably not – but I did kind of like the fuzzy, sweet, everything worked out note the story closed on.

– 3/5 A quick and simple missing child mystery with a tight plot and satisfying reveal.

Buy it – I’ll Be Watching You

Advertisements

The Hunting Party – Lucy Foley Review

the hunting party
The Hunting Party – Lucy Foley

Author – Lucy Foley

Publisher – William Morrow

Publish date – 12th February 2019

Genre – Mystery / Psychological Suspense

POV – First person, Present tense

Rating – 3/5

Summary

ALL OF THEM ARE FRIENDS. ONE OF THEM IS A KILLER.

“A ripping, riveting murder mystery — wily as Agatha Christie, charged with real menace, real depth. Perfect for fans of Ruth Ware.” – A.J. Finn, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Woman in the Window

During the languid days of the Christmas break, a group of thirtysomething friends from Oxford meet to welcome in the New Year together, a tradition they began as students ten years ago. For this vacation, they’ve chosen an idyllic and isolated estate in the Scottish Highlands—the perfect place to get away and unwind by themselves.

The trip began innocently enough: admiring the stunning if foreboding scenery, champagne in front of a crackling fire, and reminiscences about the past. But after a decade, the weight of secret resentments has grown too heavy for the group’s tenuous nostalgia to bear. Amid the boisterous revelry of New Year’s Eve, the cord holding them together snaps.

Now, on New Year’s Day, one of them is dead . . . and another of them did it.

DON’T BE LEFT OUT. JOIN THE PARTY NOW.

Full Review

(Avoid spoilers – read the Quick Review)

Nine, dysfunctional, thirty-something old college friends go on vacation together to an isolated estate in the Scottish Highlands. One of them is murdered.

This story, like One Little Secret, was a fun, gossipy, whodunit type psychological suspense. The dynamics of a group of dysfunctional friends with a long intertwined and messy history was utilized to build tension. Their slow but inevitable unraveling held interest in a kind of “crash you can’t look away from” style.

Foley was effective in hooking me in from the beginning. We are told someone is missing and later found dead. We alternate between past and present, playing catch up and trying to piece together the central mysteries; who, among these, at first, nostalgic old friends, was the victim, who the murderer and how it could all have happened. Starting at the present then returning to three days prior the incident, then two, then one, like a murder countdown.

Seeing how it all comes apart was entertaining enough to hold my interest, but it was never really something that had me on edge or creeped out further than a small scene or two. Most of the suspense and creep factor relying heavily on the backdrop of the story and the dangling of the major event and present P.O.V. dealings, with details handed out sparingly over time.

I had hoped there would be a little more than friendship/relationship/personal drama, one murder and one attempted murder. With the surroundings and poachers mentioned so frequently, I kept envisioning some sort of calculated hunting down of the rest of the guests. It turned out to be a murder created by a set of unfortunate circumstances at the wrong place and time, out of passion. It was really more character involved and the surroundings provided a sense of unease, making it feel creepier than it was in reality.

At first, there was a bit of confusion for me, trying to remember who was who and linkedimg_3811 to who. You’re sprung in the middle of all these names and histories and dynamics that can be a bit much at once, but I did get my head around it after a few chapters (and also a map of characters).

The P.O.V’s were well distinguished. Voice and characterization a strong point of the story and individualized to the point where I could recognize the person talking without having to see the name.

However, I didn’t find myself caring for any of the characters, either because there was not enough of them directly involved for so long that I couldn’t invest or they were just, well… unlikable. They were all a little irritating and shady and I found the way the friend group needed to pretend around each other and resume their college roles again unbearably immature.

I particularly hated Miranda but appreciated how Foley handled her, and the rest of the characters, with a quality of roundedness. We were given a fuller picture of the main characters than even the friends themselves saw at times. I hated Miranda but I saw her vulnerability. Her worse qualities rounded off and filled in with more detail which didn’t make her likable necessarily but real and occasionally someone you could relate to or sympathize with.

That was my favorite aspect of the story, characters rather than the major plot events. It was so interesting to see how they all saw each other. How much they thought they knew each other and about each other’s lives and at the same time to see the reality of it.

The things that sounded wonderful from one friend’s perspective, in reality, is not all it seems. Everything has its downsides. The real reasons we behave a certain way toward someone not necessarily as clear as it seems from the outside. The people we envy and think we know so much about, we don’t truly. Because we can’t know everything or because we aren’t allowed to see beyond that wall. And because life is complicated, and perspective limited.

In the end some aspects of the mysteries were kind of predictable. It was no surprise that what was happening at the Loch and the extra couple guest was a distraction from the main killer. It was no surprise to me that the killer was not Doug. It was no surprise when Katie and Julien’s affair was revealed. But some of it did surprise me.

I was a little surprised by all that was revealed to be going on at once. I was surprised by the revelation of the murderer and the history there. There was a lot of appreciated character drama and complication but not as much suspense as I was hoping for. Miranda ended up pushing the wrong person a little too far and there was a little poetic justice in that. I was surprised by how long it had all really been building up for and I enjoyed that it was all tied together quite neatly when unveiled.

-3/5 A dysfunctional friendship drama turned murder mystery.

Buy it – The Hunting Party

 

 

The Bone Keeper – Luca Veste Review

The Bone Keeper
The Bone Keeper

Author – Luca Veste

Publisher – Sourcebooks Landmark

Publish date – 5th February 2019

Genre – Mystery / Thriller

POV – Third person, past tense

Rating – 2/5

Summary

He’ll slice your flesh. Your bones he’ll keep.
The Bone Keeper’s coming. And he’ll make you weep.

What if the figure that haunted your nightmares as a child was real?

Twenty years ago, four teenagers went exploring in the local woods, trying to find the supposed home of the Bone Keeper. Only three returned.

Now, a woman is found wandering the streets, horrifically injured, claiming to have fled the evil urban myth.

And then a body turns up.”

Full Review

(Avoid spoilers – read the Quick Review)

When a woman is found injured, having escaped near death, a small community is shocked. But quickly after there’s a murder, then another and another. Louise Henderson and her partner Shipley wind through the urban myths they grew up with, surrounding the forest it all seems to link back to, to get to the all too real truth.

The story started strong and promising. Children in a forest investigating an urban myth. They’re right at the source. The tunnel that will lead them to The Bone Keeper. It’s creepy, exciting, mysterious. All the good things. It felt like the exact thing I was desperate to read, and I was so hooked.

What followed was a multiple POV police procedural surrounding a serial killer whose origin is a little too close to home for the main protagonist Louise.

I’ll admit, I set myself up for the exact wrong thing yet again. I mean, it literally said “police procedural” in the blurb (to be fair it doesn’t add that part in on amazon – where I bought it). I decided to focus on the former half that I interpreted to be some kind of supernatural horror and, big surprise, was disappointed when it was in fact not that, at all.

I want to give it some slack for that fact alone, but in all honesty even taking it for what it really was, I was still a bit disappointed. It’s obvious this story was set up to push that question and that line: Is the killer supernatural or is it real? It did do that well, but I felt it did it for a little too long at 416 pages.

I don’t have a problem with crime thrillers. Typically, they’re not exactly my favorite genre but when executed well they can feel like well-paced, fast and intriguing reads. However, once you leave the forest and the children the story feels like it adopts an almost mundane tone with only the parts that contained hints of the myth really sparking any interest.

It was just so much detective work. Then came the multiple POV’s. Victims, victims loved ones, the bone keeper himself, Caroline, Shipley, Louise, Mathew. It was a lot, and sometimes it added to the story. At first it was interesting to see the killings closer up. Caroline’s story line, toward the end, really tied everything together nicely. It was satisfying to hear from Mathew. But it also took away from the creep factor, from some of the mystery, some of the instances added layers of unnecessary confusion.

Close to the biggest revelation, what I struggled with most was: If the Bone Keeper is real, how was he depicted doing seemingly supernatural things? If he’s supernatural when if ever, from all the POV’s, will there come a point that we will explore his abilities, myth and origin deeper?

The revelations did surprise me in the end. But I was required to suspend my belief a lot. Which usually is not a problem for me but in this instance felt kind of deflating where I hoped it would pull everything up in an exciting finale.

The theme of people’s natures really was the highlight of the book. The question of whether everyone has the capacity for brutality within them. Do you have to be born evil or is everyone capable of doing terrible, monstrous things, given the right circumstances and taking the wrong paths.

The answer seems different for each of the characters in the book. Louise, different from her father, who is different from Mathew.

In Louise’s case we get someone who struggles against her brutal and violent nature but ultimately chooses and wants to be good. Not easily, not smoothly, not unwaveringly but finds her way through the darkness in the end.

It gave an interesting depth to the story. I felt a sadness and dread for the victims and their loved ones. I even felt a little for the loss of those pulled into the cult like group Louise’s father had founded. For their lost potential to be different. I especially felt sad for Caroline and Mathew.

Yet I struggled to like anyone in the book. Louise had a bit of depth and struggled with inner demons and her own nature. She was complicated, and I appreciated that, but I didn’t really feel much for her.

Caroline was not a character you could relate with or understand beyond her victimization until close to the end. Shipley was uninteresting and presented a dynamic and kind of romance I didn’t care for. And the rest were strangers and cold murderers.

Overall, I struggled to keep interest and remained passively, mildly curious. Never really feeling submerged in the story beyond the starting chapter. It had its moments of horrific scenes, creepiness, visceral descriptions and beautiful isolated settings but seemed to be overshadowed by all the elements of the story that let it down. The clustered multiple POV, the confusing, hard to believe revelations and the slow-going detective work stretched out for too long.

– 2/5 A slow burning crime thriller, psychological, horror mix that had promising moments but wasn’t quite the right mix and pace for me.