Well hello everyone and welcome back to another Bites From Our Backlist, a feature where we share a series of short reviews about books that are burning holes in our physical and digital TBR piles.
Today I’m sharing my thoughts on three different thrillers that released just this year! As far as thrillers go I really enjoyed them and was actually quite surprised by two of them!
*We received early copies of these books from the publishers via Netgalley in exchange for honest reviews. All opinions are our own and do not reflect the thoughts or opinions of the publishers or authors.C.J. Tudor
Published by Ballantine Books on January 28, 2020
A gripping new thriller about a man's quest for the daughter no one else believes is still alive, from the acclaimed author of The Chalk Man and The Hiding Place.
Driving home one night, stuck behind a rusty old car, Gabe sees a little girl's face appear in the rear window. She mouths one word: 'Daddy.' It's his five-year-old daughter, Izzy.
He never sees her again.
Three years later, Gabe spends his days and nights travelling up and down the motorway, searching for the car that took his daughter, refusing to give up hope, even though most people believe that Izzy is dead.
Fran and her daughter, Alice, also put in a lot of miles on the motorway. Not searching. But running. Trying to keep one step ahead of the people who want to hurt them. Because Fran knows the truth. She knows what really happened to Gabe's daughter.
Then, the car that Gabe saw driving away that night is found, in a lake, with a body inside and Gabe is forced to confront events, not just from the night his daughter disappeared, but from far deeper in his past.
His search leads him to a group called The Other People.
If you have lost a loved one, The Other People want to help. Because they know what loss is like. They know what pain is like. They know what death is like.
There's just one problem . . . they want other people to know it too.
Quick Take: just like any other night, Gabe is driving home from work when he gets stuck behind a van. As his nerves wear thin he glimpses a familiar face in the van window: his little girls. What follows is an intense, pulse-pound page turner that explore just how far a parent would go for their child.
What I Loved: the premise was completely fascinating to me and every storyline that Tudor includes features a parent doing whatever necessary to help their child. While I am not a parent myself, and therefore cannot fully sympathize with many of the characters in this novel, I found many of the motivations of the characters profoundly moving. Full of twists and turns, The Other People was a wild ride from start to finish.
What I Didn’t Love: There were a lot of threads to follow and at times things got a little confusing but no less compelling and Tudor does a fabulous job keeping you guessing until the very end. I do think the role of the Other People was oversold int he synopsis- I went into this book expecting a strong presence of a cult-like organization- and while they played a role I would have loved to learn more about them during the course of the story.Kathleen Barber
on February 25, 2020
From the author of Truth Be Told (formerly titled Are You Sleeping)—now an Apple TV series of the same name—comes a cautionary tale of oversharing in the social media age for fans of Jessica Knoll and Caroline Kepnes’s You.
Everyone wants new followers…until they follow you home.
Audrey Miller has an enviable new job at the Smithsonian, a body by reformer Pilates, an apartment door with a broken lock, and hundreds of thousands of Instagram followers to bear witness to it all. Having just moved to Washington, DC, Audrey busies herself impressing her new boss, interacting with her online fan base, and staving off a creepy upstairs neighbor with the help of the only two people she knows in town: an ex-boyfriend she can’t stay away from and a sorority sister with a high-powered job and a mysterious past.
But Audrey’s faulty door may be the least of her security concerns. Unbeknownst to her, her move has brought her within striking distance of someone who’s obsessively followed her social media presence for years—from her first WordPress blog to her most recent Instagram Story. No longer content to simply follow her carefully curated life from a distance, he consults the dark web for advice on how to make Audrey his and his alone. In his quest to win her heart, nothing is off-limits—and nothing is private.
Kathleen Barber’s electrifying new thriller will have you scrambling to cover your webcam and digital footprints.
Quick Take: Audrey lives her life on social media. She live streams about her new dream job, her sketchy new apartment in DC (that she describes as “cute” and “quaint”) and an old friend which circumstance has brought back into her life. But unbeknownst to Audrey, her new move to DC has brought her within dangerous proximity to someone who has followed Audrey since her first blog post, someone who is determined to show her that they are meant for each other- even if she doesn’t know he exists yet.
What I Loved: As someone who is very active on social media (thank you Bookstagram!) this book was terrifying. At the very beginning of the novel, Barber talks about the rabbit hole she went down on Reddit which inspired the novel in the first place. It definitely felt like Stephen King’s Misery in the age of technology. It also held similarities to You with some added technological flair that makes you want to cover up your webcam with a piece of tape and delete all your social media.
What I Didn’t Love: Like the previous books, there were a lot of POVs to grapple with and a lot of things that were unexplained until the last few chapters. While I know that much of this was done to build suspense I think at times the plot became muddled by my preoccupation with trying to understand who was who and how they were connected to each other. However, this did not detract too much from the story and the message of a mindful social media presence that the author was working to convey.Greer Hendricks, Sarah Pekkanen
Published by St. Martin's Press on March 3, 2020
You probably know someone like Shay Miller.She wants to find love, but it eludes her.She wants to be fulfilled, but her job is a dead end.She wants to belong, but her life is so isolated.
You probably don’t know anyone like the Moore sisters.They have an unbreakable circle of friends.They live the most glamorous life.They always get what they desire.
Shay thinks she wants their life.But what they really want is hers.
Quick Take: Shay has a lot of aspirations and dreams. She wants to find love, land a well paying job, rent her own apartment, the usual. But she frequently wrestles with feelings of loneliness and isolation. That is, until she meets the Moore sisters. Cassandra and Jane are everything Shay wants to be and when circumstances throw them together Shay might get everything she’s been dying to obtain. Though it might come at a steep, fatal price.
What I Loved: I have read all of Greer and Sarah’s books and this was by far my favorite. It was so refreshing to read a thriller what diverged from the dysfunctional marriage narrative. The entire book focuses on the complexities of Shay’s developing relationship with Cassandra and Jane and with POVs from both Shay and the sisters’ perspectives the irony of this book is deliciously tense. I loved being aware of the nefarious plans of the Moore sisters while Shay idolized and worked to be like them. It touched on a deep, inner need that I think many women have (myself included): the desire to cultivate intimate relationships with the women in their immediate social spheres.
What I Didn’t Love: Honestly, I loved this book. If I had any complaints it might be that some of the characters were a little flat and one dimensional or that all the POVs got confusing (as some reviewers have suggested), but I loved this book and would recommend it to anyone looking for a change of pace in the thrillers they pick up.
What About You?
Have you read any of these books? What did you think? Let us know in the comments!