Melody

Random House Publishing Group | December 2016 | 368 pgs
Source: Library
Translated by Elizabeth Clark Wessel


Camilla Grebe has written five crime novels with her sister Åsa Träff; two of which were nominated for Best Swedish Crime Novel of the Year and this novel is her solo American debut. Aside from these, she is also the co-author of the popular Moscow Noir trilogy. The Ice Beneath Her is both an exceptional and a gripping psychological thriller but I have to admit the murder crimes were much too violent to me although they aren't described explicitly.  

When the Swedish police arrived at the scene of a murder, they were shocked to discover an unidentified woman brutally murdered in a posh suburban home. What also makes this brutal crime so disturbing is the violent act of murder resembles an unsolved case ten years ago. Unlike the cold case, this time around they have a suspect and he is the charismatic and controversial chain-store CEO, Jesper Orre, as the murder scene took place at his house and he is nowhere to be found. 

Homicide detectives Peter Lindgren and Manfred Olsson find nothing more informative of Jesper except that he has a playboy reputation and many of his employees and the Union dislike him for his cold management practices. They suspect his characteristics and an affair gone wrong might drive him to being a cold-blooded killer. To gather more clues and to understand the motive of a murderer's mind, they turn to Hanne Lagerlind-Schön, who is once a brilliant criminal profiler but had "retired" ten years ago. No one knows of her unhappy marriage and the sickness which is slowly creeping up onto her, but she is eager to share her expertise with the police again despite her husband's opposition. While the police is glad to have Hanne's assistance, Peter isn't so glad as he and Hanne had had a love affair before and Peter left Hanne without an explanation. 

Two months earlier, Emma Bohman is searching for Jesper too. Emma and Jesper's chance encounter had led to a swift romance and they were inseparable since. However, Jesper wanted Emma to keep their romance quiet as he didn't want to bring attention to the media considering his position. Emma yielded to his request but with Jesper's disappearance, she is both confused and lost and thus begins her search for her runaway lover. 

This novel is narrated by three voices - Peter, Hanne and Emma. As the story progresses, we see Peter and Hanne race against time to find their answers leading to the perpetrator while battling their own internal struggle whether or not to be with each other, again. Emma's narrative was chronicled in a way that begins her relationship with Jesper right to the time she goes in search for Jesper. I found this parallel narrations was what makes this multi-layered story a compelling read even though halfway through the book I suspected where the direction was going but still the outcome surprised me. I hope this book will begin a new series featuring Peter, Manfred and Hanne, though I thought this was a great stand-alone, too.


© 2017 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.
Melody
Lake Union Publishing | April 2014 | 304 pgs
Source: Library



Catherine McKenzie has a way of building intensity no matter whatever the topics are. Last year I read Fractured; a book about family dynamics and the plot simply blew me away. Hidden is no exceptional but this time around she focused more on the complexity of relationships, personal choices and the responsibilities one has towards his loved ones.

Jeff Manning isn't comfortable of firing anyone, especially if the employee used to his superior. Feeling lost and clueless, he consulted Tish on how to deal with this matter with tact. Tish works in the HR department but in another office building. How Jeff and Tish are close was part of the premise of as both of them are happily married to their spouse and have their own teenage child. Despite the distance, they communicated via phone texts or through office emails and nobody knew about their relationship, not even their colleagues and most of all not even their spouse. While most of our minds would wander if their relationship is leaning towards infidelity, the thing is they are more emotional attached to each other than being physical.

Then on that fateful day after Jeff has asked Art to go, he met an accident on his way home. Needless to say, Claire and their teenage son, Seth, are devastated. On the other end, Tish is devastated too but unlike Claire, she couldn't express her grief openly. However, due to company's practice and being a HR personnel she "volunteers" to attend Jeff's funeral on behalf of the company and from there it opens a can of worms for both women.

But that is not all, Catherine McKenzie brings that relationship complexity up a notch as we see Jeff with his estranged older brother, Tim; as well as Claire's who used to go out with Tim before Jeff and she became a couple. 

Narrated by Jeff, Claire and Tish and with chapters alternating between the present and the past, Hidden is an engaging story with a subtle sense of mystery that explores the relationship between a married couple as well as questioning readers if a man and a woman (especially if both are married) be in a platonic relationship without complicating matters? This book would make a great book club discussion and will keep you thinking long after you have finishing reading. 


© 2017 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.
Melody

Defendant (aka Innocent Defendant) is one of the most exciting dramas I have watched to-date this year (most probably will go onto my favourite list in 2017). Defendant will appeal to fans who like crime/legal thrillers, actions and even melodrama and after watching many dramas with a romance genre in it, I was eager for a change and I was so glad Defendant came up timely. 

The plot basically centers around prosecutor Park Jung Woo (starring Ji Sung) and his plans to escape from prison before he is sentenced to death for a crime of murdering his wife. However, Jung Woo suffered a temporary amnesia and has no idea what happened to that fateful night his wife was murdered and why he was the murderer. While many evidence points to him as the perpetrator, Jung Woo is sure he is being falsely accused because his last memory tells him otherwise. How he ended up in jail he absolutely has no idea. Adamant to find out the truth and to regain his memory, he began to plan his moves and has suffered numerous punishments and sacrifices before he could attain his goal of escaping. But his biggest challenge is to regain his innocence and finds the real perpetrator before he gets to him first. 


As this drama aired only two episodes per week, you can imagine how antsy I was to have to wait for a new week every time the last episode of the week ended. It was that good and I haven't had this kind of anticipation since Descendants of the Sun (totally a different genre, but you get the idea.) What I liked about this drama is aside from the actions and thrills, there was also emphasis on morality and empathy (even the comradeship between Jung Woo and his cellmates are heartwarming. And, no stereotyping. You would be surprised by the baddies here.) Ji Sung's acting was as stellar as his previous work and I always look forward to his new project. The plot and the characterisations are well crafted and every time a new situation (twist) happens, it gave me the thrills and I would anticipate what Jung Woo would do. This was a great thriller with a great cast. Highly recommended!  


© 2017 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.
Melody

HarperCollins Publishers | July 2016 | 352 pgs
Source: Library



In 1935, a six-year-old Emily Evans went missing from her family's vacation home on a remote Minnesota lake. The Evanses family was devastated; years gone by without any news on Emily's disappearance and her two older sisters, Lilith and Lucy, remained living at the same lake house throughout their old age despite everything; each harbouring her own thoughts and vigil for the lost sister until only Lucy remained. As the time went by, Lucy knew she had to tell her story of what happened during that devastating summer of 1935 before she passed and so a journal was written. This journal, together with the lake house, would be passed on to her grandniece, Justine.

Justine, a single mom, is surprised over the inheritance but she sees the lake house as an escapism of her messed up life, juggling between a manipulating boyfriend and her two daughters. However, the lake house is no sanctuary and in no time she is challenged by the dilapidated state of the house during the winter period. Her only neighbour is a strange old man and though he seems helpful, Justine suspects he knows more than he's telling concerning the Evanses girls and that summer of 1935.

Narrated by Lucy and Justine alternatively, The Lost Girls is a haunting and riveting story about the Evanses girls and the mystery surrounding Emily's disappearance. This novel also examines the bond and loyalty between sisters, and what defines promise and regrets as the story slowly unfolds. This is a great debut as it is both skilfully crafted and beautifully written; I found myself lost in Heather's (and Lucy's) story not only it was suspenseful but also the emotions that grasped me from the beginning till the end. I didn't really like any of the characters but they captivated me. I will be looking forward to this author's next release.


© 2017 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.
Melody

Mira | July 2014 | 352 pgs
Source: Library



Mary Kubica's The Good Girl not only is a well crafted psychological thriller but it also allows readers to see another side of an interactive communication between a captor and a captive of an abduction case.

Mia Dennett is a high school's Arts teacher and also the daughter of a prominent judge. When her co-worker reports her missing one day, her mother, Eve, knew something is wrong. It is unlikely of Mia's character to go somewhere unannounced or do something outrageous, however her father thinks otherwise and concluded that Mia might be out somewhere partying, after all she is a grown woman and he even deemed her as a juvenile delinquent during her teenage years. Eve, on the other hand, points out that she was young and was just being a teenager at that time.

Gabe Hoffman, the detective tasked to the case is adamant of finding Mia and her captor and when Mia is eventually found, he is still trying to unravel the truth behind the abduction, especially since Mia doesn't remember much of what happened to her and why she is calling herself Chloe instead of her birth name.

Narrated by three characters and accompanied by events what happened before and after, this character-driven story leads readers through a surprising end of an abduction case filled with emotions and a bout of family dynamics. The plot was great but I wasn't entirely enamoured by the way the story was told. At times I had to refer back to the beginning of the narrator's chapter to see who was narrating and whether if it was told before or after the incident especially if I had to resume my reading after stopping in the middle of a chapter, but well perhaps that's just me. That being said, I still think this style worked and even the narratives that tell the 'after' events were vague and you wouldn't really know the real motive until the end.


© 2017 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.
Melody
Carina | April 2016 | 356 pgs
Source: Library


Is it just me? It seems like domestic issues are the trend in psychological thrillers lately. Don't get me wrong; I haven't gotten tired of reading them yet. They are a thrill to read, but a BIG No-no in reality. That said, I still find myself getting all riled up reading about them in fiction, such as Between You and Me.

This story hugely focus on a controlling spouse and domestic abuse and like many other books out there of the same issues, this wasn't an easy read and there were times I either shook my head in sympathy or just wanted to hurl the book across the room after reading parts of the controlling behaviours. But wait... while the first half of the book was difficult to read (and not to mention repetitive at times), the second half took a turn and this is when things became intense and exciting. Sal and Charlie are both interesting characters and each of them has their own narrative through alternating chapters.

To say what changes the dynamics would be a spoiler, but this is one of those books that requires a reader to be patient and immerse in that kind of strained atmosphere until that pent-up emotions led to a twisty turn towards the few remaining chapters of the book. I felt the twist was good but not enough to 'wow' me; granted I read a review which briefly mentioned that core element and that there are bits of clues towards the end if one pay enough attention. That said, it was still a satisfying read to me.


© 2017 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.
Melody

Little, Brown and Company | August 2013 | 290 pgs
Source: Library



Megan Abbott's Dare Me is a book filled with friendship, teenage angst, lies and secrets within a high school's cheerleading community and a suicide case that would turn a few girls' world upside down.

Addy Hanlon and Beth Cassidy are best friends; Addy has always been Beth's trusted lieutenant while Beth is captain of the school's cheerleaders squad. Awed and feared by the other girls, Beth rules the squad until a young new coach steps into their circle.

Coach Colette French may be young, but she has a cool demeanour and have high expectations of the cheerleaders. Her arrival causes a ripple effect amid the squad; while most girls appear to be star-struck by their new coach, only Beth remains unsettled and nonchalant. Addy could only think of their eagerness to impress attributes to seeking approval from an adult like Coach Colette; after all the new coach first draw Addy and the other girls into her life, except Beth who stands her ground.  Then, a suicide case led to a police investigation on the new coach and her squad and from then onwards, the intensity escalates and would lead readers into questioning some issues surrounding the perpetrator's acts and the consequences thereafter.

I wish I could elaborate more of the issues but it is hard without spoiling the story. However, I could say that Megan Abbott has a way of capturing teenage girls' voice and portraying their inward world perfectly into words. At the end of the story I simply had no words to describe how I felt about everything - the plot, the shocking truth and the impact still lingered in my mind long after I closed the book.


© 2017 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.
Melody

HarperCollins | January 2017 | 384 pgs
Source: Purchased


That ending. Alright, I have to confess it was that hashtag #WTFthatending on social media websites which had me moved aside all my fifteen library books and dived straight into this, my purchased copy, and let me just say - this isn't your typical psychological thriller you have read and that once you have started this book you just have to keep flipping through those pages. 

So it all began with Louise, a single mom, who kissed a man called David in a bar. They were drunk; and Louise has never fully felt a sense of freedom ever since her divorce until that one evening she had had with David. She enjoyed being with David, even if she knew he is married and that she might never see him again. But she did. In fact, she would be seeing him often at the psychiatric clinic where she is working because he is to be her new boss. 

And as if that isn't complicating enough, enter Adele Martin. Adele is David's wife and she is beautiful and elegant. Louise and Adele bumped into each other literally one day and from there it begins their friendship. Louise knew who she is, of course, after all she had seen Adele with David once to meet Dr Sykes, who is the senior psychiatrist at the clinic. Now Louise and David have tried to put that one night togetherness out of their heads, and while Louise is uncomfortable being friends with Adele, she couldn't not be friends with Adele. Not only she has no excuse to end their friendship (well to do so might arouse suspicion) but also there is a vulnerable side of Adele which kind of fascinates Louise. Adele has also asked Louise not to let David know about their friendship and while this perplexed Louise at first, she began to see something is wrong from Adele's speech and behaviours when David is concerned. Her behaviours have left Louise puzzled because the David she knew on their first night is different from the way Adele portrays of him. And as Louise becomes drawn to this odd couple she knew she has to know more about them individually to a point of becoming an obsession. 

And from here I have to cease saying more because anything I wanted to say might be a risk of spoilers. This book is dark and is mind boggling. The plot is different from any psychological thrillers I have read and it was original... and disturbing. This is one of those books you have to read for that 'oscillating' feeling as your mind will waver to and from and have you guessing until you will come to realise that you are walking on the wrong path and by then the truth has hit you, hard. I simply had no description for it and well, this probably explains how that hashtag comes about. This is possibly one of the most unsettling thrillers I read this year (and half of the year isn't even over, mind you.) 
 


© 2017 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.
Melody

Random House Publishing Group | July 2016 | 416 pgs
Source: Library


We live because we are remembered. ~ Pg 388


Valley of the Moon is a time-travel fantasy with a time period set between 1906 and the 1980s. Alternating between two core narratives, this story tells a timeless love and the vast farm community in Greengage, Valley of the Moon.

It is San Francisco, 1975. When Lux first stumbles upon Valley of the Moon on a full moon with a heavy fog surrounding her camp site over the Sonoma landscape, she thought she has wandered into a site meant for a history show, considering the people she met wore their clothings like they belong in another era. But no, she also realises that the farm is huge and that the way they behave and speak make them seem like they do live in another time. And they are.

Valley of the Moon, California - 1906. Joseph Bell, the person who is solely in charge of Greengage, has great plans for their community and he also believes in equality in status and class. In his mind, he feels that everyone deserves a better life and fairness, just like his late mother had devoted to many causes including education and women's rights. He bought the luscious valley which later became Greengage; a home not only for himself and his wife but also a tribute to his late mother and her ideals. The farm flourishes, but an earthquake shattered the community and the residents find themselves forever trapped within Greengage, with a towering bank of fog that hung at the edge of the woods. They had lost two men who had tried to enter the fogbank; they even did a few experiments with their domestic animals and they died, too. Until Lux steps in from that fogbank alive and into their hearts. Lux later discovers that only she is able to come and go and that she will come to a stage when she will be torn between these two different worlds she is in.

I was sucked into Melanie Gideon's world of Greengage, despite that I am not a huge time travel genre fan. The past and the 1970s and 80s settings were what most enticing to me, for I love reading anything which is historical. While the 20th century doesn't seem like decades ago, it still brings back memories and nostalgia for readers who are familiar with that time period. But, this story is more about Lux's and Joseph's life and the struggles they faced in their own time. Lux has had issues with her father since she was a teenager; and then there is the challenge of bringing up a five-year-old boy as a single parent. And being able to travel through the past appears to be her escapism. For Joseph, aside from his dreams he is a futurist who sees beyond and hope for something much more better; which is why he sees Lux as his guide to a "new world".

The ending was filled with melancholy; one which reminds us how time waits for no man.


© 2017 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.