Tuesday, 29 March 2016

What is waiting to be discovered Behind all these Closed Doors?

I didn't realise how many books were currently carrying this title at the moment until I ran a search trying to find a specific one- but it is such a suggestive one, it is easy to see why it has inspired so many authors for their stories. Here are a few reviews of the ones I have enjoyed!

Behind Closed Doors (DCI Louisa Smith #2)£3.99 Kindle

This sat on my "to read"pile for too long - partly because I had been saving it as a treat! I am a massive fan of Haynes since reading "Into the Darkest Corner" which I think is one of the most absorbing psychological thrillers I have ever read; the protagonist's painful battle with OCD is depicted with such conviction I found myself mirroring some of the behaviour I was so involved with her plight! I now seek out all Haynes' new books and she is definitely one of my "read everything she writes" authors! She always guarantees a complex, shocking and page turning read -I have not yet been disappointed.

Ten years ago, fifteen-year-old Scarlett Rainsford vanished while on a family holiday in Greece. Was she abducted, or did she run away? Lou Smith worked the case as a police constable, and failing to find Scarlett has been one of the biggest regrets of her career. No one is more shocked than Lou to learn that Scarlett has unexpectedly just been found during a Special Branch raid of a brothel in Briarstone. As Lou and her team work on two troubling cases - a 19 year old who has been beaten and a bar owner is found half buried in the woods - it becomes clear that not only are these two cases linked but they are also linked to the Scarlett's disappearance in 2003. Danger mounts.....the silent and secretive Scarlett holds the key to everything.......

This is the second instalment in the DCI Louisa Smith series although it doesn't matter if you haven't read the first (Under a Silent Moon) - although of course you will now you've discovered them!

Haynes worked as a police intelligence analyst for many years and her knowledge and experience ensures that she writes criminal thrillers with accuracy and authenticity. Her use of inserting transcripts, emails,witness and intelligence reports between the switching narratives of Lou, Scarlett and DS Sam Hollands -which also jump between 2003 and 2012/13 - works really well and makes the story not only feel very real but also very urgent. I enjoyed the tantalising way these additions helped to disclose clues and revelations, allowing the reader to piece together the jigsaw and develop their responses to the characters. I also found it gave the reader a bit of respite from the more harrowing subject of the crime, which in this case is human trafficking.

Haynes characters are all vividly brought to life with convincing depth and appealing personalities. Scarlett's account is compelling despite its traumatic detail, and the presentation of the underworld of human trafficking disturbing and violent. It is easy to become embroiled in the case alongside Lou and caught up in the unfolding story. Haynes has an effortless gift for quickly engaging the reader and pulling them along at a dramatic pace right up until the final sentence.

Haynes' writing is skilful, well crafted and satisfyingly unsettling. She does not shy away from controversial and distressing themes; her writing is dark but always captivating and full of well created, believable characters. I would recommend this crime thriller. And then encourage you to read her other four novels!

Behind Closed Doors99p Kindle
I thoroughly enjoyed this and had that gorgeous experience of starting to scan along the opening chapter in a spare minute "just to see what it's like" and then finding myself unable to put the book down and hurtling towards the 50% mark without even pausing to complete the half started task I had been distracted from (probably feeding the children or something equally important but don't worry, they are getting used to it!) I had some trepidation about reading it too after having seen so many fellow book bloggers review it with such endorsement and praise, and the publishers claim that this was the next "Gone Girl" or "Girl on the Train".

But there was no need for such concern! This is a truly gripping read. I was hooked from the very opening and completely fascinated by the whole scenario. The story is about Grace and Jack. Jack is handsome, confident and charming. Grace is controlled, slim, attractive and a dedicated housewife. They have the perfect marriage. They are always together. They are the ideal example of a couple who adore each other.

But why can Grace never meet her friends alone? Why doesn't she have a mobile phone? What does a young, bright woman in her early thirties do all day without a young family or a job? Why can't the neighbouring women get to know her better? Is it really possible that all she needs is Jack? .....And then the killer lines from the blurb..... "Sometimes the perfect marriage is the perfect lie."

This is an "edge of your seat" read. It is reminiscent of "Sleeping with the Enemy," Haynes's "Into the Darkest Corner" and Watson's "Before I go to Sleep" but this does not detract from its compelling and addictive plot line. I didn't even pause to make any notes or mark any quotes while reading this, I was so caught up. I immediately posted a comment on Facebook and Twitter giving it a 5 star rating literally seconds after finishing the last sentence - then later worried if this had been a bit rash, but I think if you've been unable to tear yourself away from something and find yourself transported into the life of the main characters, visualising them as real people, reacting and responding to them with feeling then, to be honest, what more can you ask for from any author?

Jack is a great character. Outwardly charming, controlled and rational but behind closed doors it is a completely different story. He is frightening, intimidating, calculating and heartless. A perfectly created "baddie". Grace is also a strongly drawn character. Worn down by his bullying and cruelty, she has become a victim but never completely gives up or loses her fight however impossible and futile things seem. Her concern and responsibility for her mentally handicapped sister drive her to never stop looking for escape routes or ways to overcome Jack's oppressive control.

I liked the way details about the house and Jack's actions revealed more about they way they lived, the extremity of his behaviour and brutal mind. It was eerie and unnerving. Paris was also great at reminding the reader that Grace was not pathetic or weak- every time the reader might begin to wish she stood up to Jack more or question why she didn't just blurt something out to someone when she had the chance, Grace would recall how she had tried to escape her situation or seek help and the dramatic consequences. I liked the way Grace could trust nothing she saw or heard, so scarred by Jack's cleverness and his ability to always think six steps ahead of her. It was claustrophobic and frightening. The only word for the ending is "nail biting"!

This is a quick, easy, gripping, psychological thriller which I would highly recommend for anyone who loves this type of book. It is well written and alarmingly believable. And it's 99p folks - an absolute steal! I can't wait for B A Paris's next book due out later this year - which I may have already preordered on Amazon ;-) She joins Haynes on my list of  authors who "you must absolutely read anything and everything they write"!

Behind Closed Doors99p Kindle
This is also described as being perfect for fans of Gillian Flynn, SJ Watson and Elizabeth Haynes and fits into the genre of psychological thriller neatly. Here we follow the story of Olivia Taylor who has just left her unhappy marriage to Carl behind her and moved into a flat with her nine year old daughter Ellie. She quickly becomes involved with her neighbour Michael and thus begins her nightmare. ......

Croft creates plenty of tension, drama and cliff hangers. From the very beginning there is a sense that something is not right and that key information is being withheld. An atmosphere of foreboding danger lurks over Olivia; her hopefulness for her new start and new relationship seem naive and too innocent. At times her naivety is a little unbelievable but then this is a woman who has only had one serious relationship (with her soon to be ex-husband) and therefore she is perhaps less experienced, worldly and actually quite vulnerable, so one can excuse some of her decisions and trusting willingness to accept the way she is treated by Michael in the initial steps of their relationship. I did find her tolerance for his odd, allusive and solitary behaviour a little unconvincing as the time passes but Michael appears to have a magnetic hold over her and the physical side of the relationship seems to over power her rationality and objectivity. The physical side of the relationship is aggressive and often violent and Croft is really exploring the question of when does this sort of intimacy stop being intimacy and start being abuse. Is it that the reader is supposed to be a little frustrated by Olivia's repeated return to this man despite his rough, unkind, disrespectful conduct and consider that often the victim is unable to see that they are exactly that until it is too late and they are too imprisoned by the situation they have unwittingly created for themselves?

I liked the way the reader is kept at a distance from Michael. Olivia refers to him as "you" which I think dehumanises him a little and is certainly effective in making him more threatening. We see everything through Olivia's point of view which is not an entirely reliable one. He is a well crafted, unnerving character for which you feel no sympathy, only intense dislike. I found Olivia a more difficult character to relate to and flitted between feelings of sympathy and frustration. I think you have to allow yourself to believe that she really can't see what is actually happening around her and is honestly willing to accept such an unevenly balanced relationship. Perhaps she is just a slightly weaker female lead than those in the other books I have recently read.

I liked the character of Chloe, Michael's sister. I can imagine she would be a great role to play in a TV dramatisation - a real "love-to-hate" character. I can't say much more about her without spoiling the story but she is a deliberately dysfunctional, annoying and irritating person and Croft portrays her  well.

The book finishes with a very dramatic finale and I was also intrigued by the seemingly random paragraphs that start to appear from about half way through the book. At first they don't really make sense but hint at the melodrama to come and encourage the reader to keep turning the pages to see what is going to happen.

I could imagine this becoming a very successful TV drama series. It was only 99p which is a bargain and this is an easy read. I would rate it 3/5 stars.

Behind Closed Doors£4.99 Kindle
I have not read this book but I know that she is a highly reviewed author on many book blogs and regularly features in my Twitter feed as a popular author so I thought I would include her on this list.
When fourteen-year-old Sophie Monroe suddenly vanishes one night it looks at first as though she's run away from home. Her computer and mobile phone have gone, and she's taken a bag full of clothes. As the police investigation unfolds a wealth of secrets from the surrounding community start coming to light. And it seems everyone has something to hide. For Detective Sergeant Andrea Lawrence, the case is a painful reminder of the tragedy that tore her family apart over twenty years ago. She is convinced there is more to Sophie's disappearance than teenage rebellion. But is the past clouding her judgment, preventing her from seeing a truth that neither she, nor Sophie's family, would ever want to face?
The reviews on Goodreads and Amazon are all very positive and the average rating is 4/5 stars which is impressive. Words such as "gripping", "emotional', "pleasing" and "very enjoyable" crop up frequently as does the sentiment that for many readers this was their first Susan Lewis book and they are off to find more as a result of finishing this one. I will be adding it to my list! 
I hope you find something here to tempt you to look behind that closed door! 
For further recommendations, reviews and bookish chat follow me on Twitter @katherinesunde3 (bibliomaniacUK) or sign up to receive future posts via email. 

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