Melody
Bitter Lemon Press | 26 July 2022 | 286 pgs
Source: Library
Translated from the Japanese by Alison Watts


Where to begin? Everything about this story baffled me; starting with the sunny poetic title which has nothing to do as what it suggested (or perhaps I just missed it). In any case the concept was refreshing albeit a bit muddled in my opinion. 

The story opens with a couple in their shared flat for a late night conversation before they go on separate ways. Aki and Hiro felt they've to know each other's feelings and thoughts after their mountain trek in which their guide had fallen off the mountain. To begin with, their relationship has somewhat broken down before the trip and looking back, they began to wonder if the other has anything to do with the guide's death. 

Set over the course of one night, the reader will soon learn that the mind games between the couple go far beyond from that fateful trekking trip as there's something more about their past which might have start the chains of events leading to what happened on the mountain.

With narratives alternate between Aki and Hiro, this story was draped in an intense, suffocative atmosphere which have you question the characters' inner thoughts and the unravelling truth as a new day began. Truth be told, the strength of the story lies in the taut atmospheric setting and the tension between the characters but the suspense of the guide's death was shadowed by the characters' reminiscence as the story progresses. It was quite a well-crafted story characters-wise but a bit lacking in the thriller department (though I later understand that this isn't the core of the story at all). This book wasn't what I'd expected initially but the author's writing intrigued me. Perhaps I should check out her previous book, The Aosawa Murders (selected by NYT as one of most notable books of 2020.)
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Melody
Hodder & Stoughton | 7 July 2022 | 368 pgs
Source: Library 


Casey Fletcher is an actress but has since pause her career after her husband's passing. Despite her husband's accidental drowning at their family's lake house in Vermont, Casey returns to the place to escape from bad press and also to drown her sorrows with alcohol. Bored with nothing much to do, Casey spends most of her time drinking and watching with her binoculars and that's when she started to watch the couple who live in the house across the lake. 

Casey soon learns that the couple is none other than Tom and Katherine; both whom have made their success and fame through their jobs as a tech innovator and a model respectively. Casey later become friends with Katherine after she's saved her from drowning, but her impression on the glamorous couple starts to change after she got to know Katherine more and her spying habits continue. Tom's and Katherine's marriage may not seem as perfect as what she's thought the more she watches them until one day, Katherine goes missing. Curious and bothered by her disappearance, Casey is adamant to find out the truth till she's unravel something darker and more sinister than she's thought. 

At first glance the premise gave off the Rear Window and The Woman in the Window vibes. I didn't mind this trope as I think with the trend of the thriller genre goes, most of the tropes have been used in one way or another and it's up to the author's imaginations and writing skills to make the story different and captivating in their own way. This book is a fine example of it; and I've enjoyed most of Riley Sager's books but this story was a letdown despite the intriguing premise. Don't get me wrong, Sager's writing is good and I feel his story settings' descriptions is one of his strengths but this story veered off in another direction which was simply too far-fetched for me to fathom and to appreciate the conclusion as it comes to a closure (I couldn't say why due to spoilers). Another thing that bothered me was Casey's alcoholic obsession; she really did nothing but drank and spied on her neighbour most of the times. There's some twists and turns as expected in this genre, but alas I think the author was trying too hard and this ended flatly in my opinion. I hope his next book will be better and that it'd surpass Final Girls and Home Before Dark, which remain my favourite Sager books. 
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Melody
Century | 21 July 2022 | 448 pgs
Source: Library 

Although this title is stated as a standalone sequel to The Family Upstairs, I'd recommend readers to read TFU first to fully understand the story and the background of the characters before diving into this book as their emotions and actions are mostly shaped and impacted from some events happened in TFU. 

As the story begins, a bag of human bones is found on the foreshore of the river Thames by someone who's mudlarking there. DCI Samuel Owusu is called to the scene for investigation and forensic examination later reported that the bones are of a young woman who was killed by a blow to the head many years ago. DCI Owusu later traced to a mansion in Chelsea through some seeds of a rare tree found alongside the bones and from the mansion leads to a mystery happened thirty years ago. 

While the remaining occupants of the mansion are fully grown now and some has their own family, it seems they're still bothered by the past memories, in particularly Henry, who is adamant to find Phin whom they'd shared some unsettling childhood memories. His obsession leads him on a journey to Chicago, which then prompts his sister Lucy and her two children in pursuing him like cat-and-mouse game. The reader is also introduced to a new character, Rachel, who's in a complicated relationship with her husband, Michael. Michael is Lucy's ex-husband so all the characters are connected and what they're going through would be seen in a bigger picture towards the end. 

As compared to TFU, this story may seem a bit bland from the thriller aspect. Then again, this is more of a domestic drama and it focuses more on the characters though there's still some suspense in the air which kept me intrigued. I was most interested in reading Henry's POV. It's clear that he has some issues but strangely his POV stands out the most amongst others (I've to confess I felt a bit bothered about his thoughts towards the end but I'll leave that to you to find out yourself). I'd say I liked TFU more than this book, but Lisa Jewell is a wonderful storyteller and a good writer so while this isn't my favourite, overall I still enjoyed the reading experience. 
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Melody
Bantam Press | 21 July 2022 | 368 pgs
Source: Library 

We're first introduced to Detective Elin Warner in Sarah Pearse's The Sanatorium and learnt that Elin was taking leave from her job due to PTSD issue. Although she's back in this book to investigate for a new case set at an eco-wellness retreat on an island off the English coast, she's still shaken by the memories at times though she's getting better as the time goes by.  

Known locally as Reaper’s Rock, the island has its fair share of horror stories due to a murder which took place years back and the curse surrounding the place. Elin is called to the retreat because a woman's body was found on the rocks below the yoga pavilion. Initial speculation is the woman fell off the pavilion due to a mishap, but she wasn't a guest and wasn't meant to be on the island at all, in which was later rectified that her visit was a surprise by a few guests who knew her. Thereafter, there's another death in the following day when a man drowned in a diving incident. It is probably not a coincidence, considering both victims come from the same circle of family and friends who stay there for some relaxation. As Elin and her partner, DC Steed, begin their investigation around the retreat, they will soon find out the complicated relationship and dynamics within the group of family/friends and also, what really happened on the island years back. 

First off, the atmospheric setting was a draw and the author knows how to capture her readers' attention through this setup as a locked-room mystery, just like the same as The Sanatorium. Her cast of characters are usually intriguing though not all are likeable, but I'm fine with this as this bring out the characteristics in them. However, it took this reader a while to get familiarise with the characters in the beginning and the pace was slow, with nothing much going on except reading about the bickering and gossips among the characters. It's clear that some of them have secrets and are not honest with one another. As the story progresses, it was interesting to learn that the past murder was connected to the present so that leave readers the questions why and how? 

Overall I found it to be an average read but I've to say I enjoyed reading about Elin more in this book as compared to the previous book. She's shown resilience and put aside her insecurities at times in dealing with some tough situations, though not all are wise move and could be considered reckless sometimes but it's a start away from her old self. After the sanatorium and the retreat, I wonder what setup the author has in mind for her next book. 
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Melody
Raven Books | 4 August 2022 (Reprint) | 336 pgs
Source: Library 

At its core, this is a story about power, deceptions, revenge and how far a mother would go to protect her child. 

Bree Cabbat has everything what a woman would wish for: a loving husband with a successful career, two lovely young girls and an adorable baby boy. Until the day she wakes up and finds a witch peering into her bedroom window. Convinced that it might be a trick of the light, she dismiss the bad feeling and go on with her day. Everything seems normal until she spies the witch again at her daughter's school's parking lot. Turns out that she's an old woman who kidnapped her baby thereafter. Bree is then instructed to fulfill a few tasks with no questions asked in order to get her baby back, but alongside the tasks she'd soon find out a few things that will tear her family apart. 

I've mixed feelings about this book but I'd start off with the things I liked. The beginning was intriguing and compelling; the characters are flesh-out and the author has done a great job in portraying Bree's emotions and her role as a mother. Onto the parts which gave me mixed feelings are the surrealism of the tasks Bree had to accomplish and the motives behind the kidnapping. I get it that the kidnapper wanted justice on her end, but I didn't agree with her acts and her choice of victim(s) considering she herself as a mother, too. The pacing was great in the beginning, but it was slowed down by another character's POV and some flashbacks, thus leading to the inconsistency of narratives and the intensity momentum. Overall it was a decent read but it wasn't enough for me in the thriller aspect. 
© 2022 Melody's Reading Corner (https://mel-reading-corner.blogspot.sg/), All Rights Reserved. If you are reading this post from other site(s), please take note that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.