Sylvie’s thriller and mystery review

By Sylvie Chartrand

Following up on my list in the October 2019 Glebe Report, here is a synopsis of some of the books I have read recently, in the order of when I read them, not by favourites. I mostly enjoy mystery novels but hopefully you can find something that appeals to you in the reviews below.

Before She Knew Him

by Peter Swanson (2019)

Peter Swanson is a graduate of Trinity College, the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, and Emerson College. He lives in Somerville, Massachusetts, with his wife and cat. He has written five novels so far and The Kind Worth Killing won the New England Society Book Award.

Hen (short for Henrietta) and her husband Lloyd have just moved into a quiet neighbourhood outside of Boston. The couple next door, Mira and Matthew, invite them over for dinner. While they are being given a tour of the house, Hen notices an object that brings back an obsession she had about an unsolved murder that happened years ago. When Hen returns to her neighbour’s house, with an excuse to look at the object one more time, she finds out that it is gone. What does it mean? Was Matthew involved in a murder? Hen starts digging into the cold case and tries to convince the police and her husband of her suspicions, but Matthew finds out what she is up to and that is the beginning of a terrible nightmare that may put her life in danger.

The Perfect Nanny

by Leïla Slimani (2016)

Leïla Slimani is a French writer and journalist of Moroccan ancestry. In 2016 she was awarded the Prix Goncourt for her novel Chanson douce. Slimani was born in Rabat, Morocco, and studied political science and media studies in Paris. After that she temporarily considered a career as an actress and began to work as a journalist for the magazine Jeune Afrique. In 2014 she published her first novel Dans le jardin de l’ogre, which two years later was followed by the psychological thriller Chanson douce. The latter quickly turned into a bestseller with over 450,000 copies printed within a year, even before the book was awarded the Prix Goncourt.

The Perfect Nanny is engaging and disturbing. Do we ever really know someone? Paul and Myriam hire a nanny when Myriam decides to go back to work. Louise is the perfect nanny. She looks after the children, she cooks, she cleans and doesn’t mind staying late but, with time, jealousy and resentment is felt by all. While I enjoyed this book, I must admit the ending was disappointing and left me with too many questions.

Luckiest Girl Alive

by Jessica Knoll (2015)

Jessica Knoll has been a senior editor at Cosmopolitan and the articles editor at Self. She grew up in the suburbs of Philadelphia and now lives in New York City. Luckiest Girl Alive is her first novel followed by The Favorite Sister (2018).

I wasn’t certain about this book when I first began reading it and I almost put it down, but I am glad I didn’t, as this book just gets better and better as you read.

Ani Fanelli worked very hard to become successful, She is engaged to a rich and handsome man but Ani has a secret, something that haunts her and may destroy her. When she was a 14-year-old girl and new to the prestigious Bradly school, she tried to fit in, but something happened that should never happen to anyone and for many reasons she kept it to herself. Years later she finally gets the chance to tell her story, but will it set her free?

The Obsession

by Nora Roberts (2016)

Nora Roberts, who also writes under the name J.D. Robb, was born in Maryland, U.S.A., and has written many books, mostly romance.

This is the story of Naomi Bowes, who at 15 years old saved a young woman from her own father’s clutches. Naomi moved and changed her name to get a fresh start where no one knew who she was. Eventually she bought a house, made a living as a photographer and began a relationship with Xander. One day, a woman she had words with disappears and is found dead by Naomi in the woods near her home. The woman was murdered in a way that reminded Naomi of her father, but Naomi’s father is in prison for the rest of his life. So, who could have picked up his murderous tendencies and why is she being targeted?

The Last Dead Girl

by Harry Dolan (2014)

Harry Dolan is the author of the mystery/suspense novels Bad Things Happen (2009), Very Bad Men (2011), The Last Dead Girl (2014) and The Man in the Crooked Hat (2017). He graduated from Colgate University, where he majored in philosophy and studied fiction writing with the novelist Frederick Busch. A native of Rome, New York, he now lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

I recommend this book, which I really enjoyed. It takes place in the late 1990s. David Malone meets Jana Fletcher, a beautiful law student, one rainy night in April. They have a short romance until the day David discovers Jana brutally murdered in her apartment. He is briefly considered a suspect, but David can’t rest until he finds out who killed her. The clues and what he discovers from talking to people who knew Jana makes him think her murder was related to another earlier murder that Jana had been obsessing over. The closer he gets to the truth the more dangerous it becomes for him.

These books and so many more are available at the Ottawa Public Library!

Sylvie Chartrand is a public service assistant at the Sunnyside branch of the Ottawa Public Library.

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