Melody

William Morrow | 6 July 2021 | 336 pgs
Source: Library 


Journalist Joan Lurie's life takes a turn after her article exposing a newspaper tycoon as a sexual predator leads her being assaulted and had her hiding at a highly secure apartment called the Refuge, which was once a Magdalen Laundry (googled and found some info from Wikipedia here). She's had informants who pointed at the tycoon's dirty deeds, but so far none came forward or they'd "vanished into thin air", thus leaving her with information that could end her in a book deal if she's willing to write it. However, her stay at the Refuge doesn't really offer her the peace and security that she wants. She still feels being watched; or perhaps it's the aftermath of the assault which left her with a vision and memory problems. 

Enter two women who will either save or wreck havoc in Joan’s life. Lillian Day is Joan’s new 96-year-old neighbor and she has her own story to tell. During the 1940s, troubled and wayward girls are sent to the Magdalen Laundry but the poor atmosphere and treatments had had them attempt escape but unfortunately had led to some death. Lillian also shares a mystery involving her past life which remains unsolved until the end. Melissa Osgood, on the other hand, is the tycoon's wife and she harbours an obsession of stalking Joan as she believes Joan has wrecked their family's life instead of finding the truth about her husband's other life. It is only through his "suicide" that had her find out about his finances problems, but that doesn't stop her from stalking Joan and doing some investigations on her own. 

Carol Goodman is a wonderful storyteller and she's always great at setting the scene, be it atmospheric or Gothic. While this story was engaging, I felt it has too many subplots so the focus was a bit lost. The combination between the #MeToo movement and part of Lillian's story serves an awareness of the current social issues we're facing today, but they're bogged down by a few threads and not to mention Joan's anxiety and Melissa's obsession. Then there's Lillian's story which stands on its own and has not much relation to the core of the story though it was intriguing. Overall, I felt the story was all over the place and some parts implausible regarding Melissa's investigations. That said, Carol Goodman's writing is engaging as always and I hope her next book will be better. 



It seems like my posts have been sporadic nowadays and I apologise for that. Life plus procrastination is the main culprit and my father-in-law's passing and the wake last week had had me in no mood/time to read, let alone drafting and writing posts. My father-in-law had kidney problem and other underlying medical condition for a while, but he was hit by stroke lately and this led to his condition deteriorated. While it was sad, at least he's not suffering now. I am gradually back to my reading mojo now but I'll be slow in blog hopping and commenting so thanks for your understanding. Anyhoo, what're you reading and what's happening on your side of the world now? 
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Melody

Minotaur Books | 4 May 2021 | 288 pgs
Source: Library 


Set in a rural village in Northern China (near Harbin which is well-known for its bitterly cold winters and ice-sculptures festival), a young woman named Yang Fenfang was brutally murdered. Her mouth stuffed with "hell notes" and a few of her organs (heart, lungs and liver) removed, the police had initially speculated it might be a case of organ trafficking and that the stuffed hell notes was more of a religious angle as to make offerings to the dead. Yang was first discovered by her neighbour after her dog couldn't seem to stop barking, leading them to explore her house and thus found her body in the bathroom. 

Lu Fei was graduated from a top police college but was later exiled to work in the rural village as Deputy Chief of the local Public Security Bureau station after a fallout with his superior from the Harbin headquarters due to a clash of personalities and most of all, their different views on principles and morality. Despite the exile and demotion, Lu Fei has gradually gotten accustomed to the laid-back rural living and the small station under the leadership of Chief Liang. Since there's hardly any major case in the village, Yang's murder is considered a rare and a high profile case so Superintendent Song, Deputy Director of the Criminal Investigation Bureau in Beijing is assigned to look into the case together with Chief Liang's team. Their initial investigation leads to a local man who works as a butcher and had had an infatuation with Yang, but Lu Fei dismisses him as a suspect due to his simple mindedness and a lack of valid evidence. With political games and an authoritarian system within the governmental bureau hierarchy, Lu Fei realises that he has to dig further into the case on his own even if he has to face old enemies and creating new ones in the form of local Communist Party bosses and corrupt business interests. 

Brian Klingborg's Thief of Souls was a refreshing read apart from my usual reads of the psychological suspense genre. With a likeable character like Lu Fei and an intriguing setting with authoritarianism and politics as part of the elements, this book was a compelling read right from the beginning till the end. The characters development was great (there were a few interesting secondary characters too and I hope to see them in the next book, Wild Prey) and most of all, I enjoyed reading about the complicated relationship between Lu Fei and Song from their clashing personalities to their gradual trust and respect of each other as the story progresses. Aside from these, I also liked it that the author input various quotes from the Chinese history, poetry, philosophy, customs and beliefs into narratives (in particularly Lu Fei) which add some depth to the story. The description of the Chinese government bureaucracy was well defined too so overall a very engaging read. Recommended. 

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Melody

Hodder & Stoughton | 29 July 2021 | 336 pgs
Source: Purchased 

The year is 1991. College student Charlie Jordan is grieving over the death of her best friend, Maddy. Also plagued with guilt, Charlie felt she was indirectly responsible for Maddy's death since she'd left her alone at a bar late one night over a squabble. Charlie didn't get a chance to reconcile with her ever again, because Maddy fell victim to the murderer who's dubbed the Campus Killer since all his victims were killed near the campus. Charlie decides to leave the campus but with her boyfriend, Robbie, being busy (unless she could wait a bit but no) and she doesn't drive (for a reason after her parents' accident), she put up a flyer at the campus ride board so that someone would share the ride to her hometown in Ohio. 

Josh Baxter answers to Charlie's flyer, claiming that he's to return home to take care of his father who's sick. Despite Charlie's doubts about Josh from his behaviour of hiding his view from her when he packs her suitcase into his car trunk, she hops into his car nonetheless and even chides herself to have some trust and faith in people. As they begin their journey and their conversations start to flow, Charlie soon realises that there's something suspicious about Josh and that there're holes in his story about his father. However, Charlie isn't sure about her judgement because at times when she's under stress or fear, her mind would conjure up some "movie moments" in which she herself wouldn't differentiate if she's in reality or in her own movie-fueled imaginations (she's a big fan of movies, especially Hitchcock's). And this begins the cat-and-mouse game of a story with an unreliable character who has to survive the night. 

I've to confess I'm a huge fan of Riley Sager's books and I've read all of his books todate, but this latest release was a huge disappointment. To begin with, I was horrified to see that Charlie hopped into a stranger's car despite her doubts and the fact that a killer is still on the loose. This may be a fiction, but in reality it's a BIG no-no no matter whatever the circumstances are. Then, there's Charlie's movie-fueled moments (which I wasn't sure if there's such a mental issue or perhaps similar to hallucinations?) and a few chances that she could escape but decided not to because she wants to be the one to stop Josh from committing more murders. However, this isn't as straightforward as far as the plot goes because there're twists and it becomes more mind-boggling (and absurd) as the story reaches its final destination. I hate to say this, but this story totally didn't work for me but onto a positive note, it was entertaining and a page-turner! That said, I'd had a great time reading and discussing this book with Lark (go check out her review here) and both of us decided to skip the Q&As for this round of our buddy read since we couldn't come up with any interesting questions. All being said, I'll still anticipate for Sager's future releases and I hope his next book will be better.  
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Melody

Doubleday | 31 August 2021 | 320 pgs
Source: Library 


I suppose it's natural for us readers to harbour some high expectations after the success of "The Girl on the Train". While this book was engaging, it was indeed 'a slow fire burning' with several unreliable, unlikeable characters and a complicated structure to boot. 

The story opens with a young man called Daniel being murdered in a rented houseboat. He was found by Miriam, a woman who's also staying in a houseboat not far from the murder scene. Miriam told the police that she'd seen a girl leaving from his houseboat earlier, which in turn leads them to Laura who admitted that they'd had a fight but she left before then and she hasn't been in contact with him since. Coincidentally or not, Daniel's mother died from an accident a few weeks ago. She and her sister, Carla, had some complicated relationship from the past which involves the death of Carla's young son. Carla and her husband believed that it was Angela's negligence that had led to their son of falling to his death. As the story progresses, the reader will soon learn that these women are more or less connected to Daniel in some ways, but who would be the murderer and why? 

In a nutshell, unreliable and unlikeable characters, the connections and the complicated relationships among them is mainly the core of this story. I thought the overall plot was pretty straightforward, but the way it executed and structured was a bit confusing to me, in which more or less had concluded my views of the already slow paced story. To be fair, there are enough red herrings and some twists and while the revelations was nicely wrapped up and explained towards the end, I find them fairly passable and left me question the acts of a particular character instead. This is definitely not my favourite Paula Hawkins book but there are readers who loved this though. You'll have to read it and find out yourself. That said, I'm curious what Ms. Hawkins will be writing next. 

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Melody

HQ | 19 August 2021 | 320 pgs
Source: Library 

This is another domestic suspense which is on my library list lately and I'm glad I didn't have to wait for too long to get ahold of it. Alice Feeney's books have been hit-or-miss to me and while this latest release was intriguing, I got mixed feelings about it. 

Amelia has won a weekend stay at Blackwater Inn, a converted chapel located in the Scottish Highlands and she intends to use this getaway to spend more time with her husband, Adam. After all, they've some marriage issues and their counsellor thinks this trip might help them to reconnect and improve their relationship. Adam, on the other hand, isn't very keen on the trip. He's a screenwriter and nowadays his mind is onto putting his own story on screen instead of other authors, though with the exception of Henry Winter's works. He idolise him and will try to get every means to get Winter's attention despite his flaw. Adam is diagnosed with prosopagnosia, which means he cannot see distinguishing features on faces, including his own. 

Anyway, the couple eventually goes on with their trip but what they've known about the place is far from their expectations. Amid the creepy atmosphere of the old chapel and a raging snowstorm, they find that their other half is harbouring some secrets and that they aren't alone in that isolated place. Amelia claims she sees someone outside a window; and Adam discovers a crypt in the chapel among other things. What's more frightening? Things that go bump in the night or your other half who's keeping secrets? 

Added to the intrigue is a mysterious character called Robin who resides near the old chapel and some letters addressed to Adam from the wife in which they expressed her thoughts about their marriage on each of their anniversaries. Adam never knew about these letters and this is where the story gets more interesting. This book has an interesting concept especially with the execution, but I wasn't so sure about the ending. Don't get me wrong, I did enjoy the book but I think the ultimatum of this story is more of the twist and while it isn't a bad thing, having read more psychological suspense/thrillers have somewhat change a bit of my expectations from this genre. That said, this book is a good fit for discussions and I'll be curious to hear your thoughts if you've read it. 
© 2021 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.