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The Perfect Guest, by Ruth Irons

Dinah spends a weekend with her friends at a luxury holiday home but quickly becomes obsessed with the owners and wants to inveigle herself into their lives. Can Dinah get the life she has always dreamed of…?
The Perfect Guest is a psychological thriller set in the UK.
Dinah has not had an easy life and always feels like the odd one out. She wants a better life for herself and thinks that friendship with the Rivers family will make all the difference. But she is lying to them and maybe everything isn’t as perfect in their lives as it seems.
Poor Dinah frequently compares herself to others and finds herself lacking. She obviously has serious mental health issues and is an unreliable narrator. The book is written in the first person so we experience her hopes and fears, understand her emotions and actions. Her behaviour is dark and dangerous as her obsession grows. I felt annoyed that she doesn’t appreciate what she has and blames others for her unhappiness instead of taking responsibility.
As the plot progressed, I was unclear what Dinah hoped to achieve. She is fully aware that she is lying and that the friendship is built on falsehoods. None of the characters is particularly easy to like, and in fact I actively disliked some of them. The final third of the book takes a more sinister turn as it is revealed that Dinah isn’t the only one with secrets.
The Perfect Guest is an enjoyable psychological thriller.

The Perfect Guest book cover

ABOUT THE BOOK:
She stayed in your house. Now she wants your life . . .
‘Tense, compulsive and gripping, The Perfect Guest is uncomfortable in the best possible way’ Charlotte Levin, author of If I Let You Go
We all have that friend – the one who doesn’t quite belong. Dinah Marshall is that person and knows it. After someone drops out, she’s invited to spend the weekend at a luxury holiday home with women she’s known since university. However, the gulf between them has widened since then, and Dinah is conscious of being the only one with no money, career, partner or children. Feeling like an outsider, she takes to snooping around the house. She’s fascinated by its owners, Sarah and Isaac Rivers – and when she discovers she can secretly stay an extra night, that fascination quickly spirals into obsession.
When Isaac Rivers meets ‘Diana Malone’ at an exclusive members club, he introduces her to his wife and friends, and she’s soon welcomed into the group. She seems to be trying a little too hard, however, and as her somewhat intense behaviour starts to raise both eyebrows and questions, one of her new acquaintances begins to suspect she isn’t who she says she is. For Diana – or is it Dinah? -this is a disaster: she’s worked hard to get where she has, and these suspicions threaten everything. But Diana isn’t the only one with secrets, and if she’s going down, then she might just take everyone else with her.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Ruth’s debut thriller, The Perfect Guest, is published in 2024 by Black & White and she is working on her second thriller.
Trained as a classical musician, Ruth teaches music around her writing. She lives in South West London with her husband and two children.


Homecoming, by Isabel Ashdown

homecoming book cover
TRIGGER WARNING: teen pregnancy, forced adoptions, miscarriage, sexual abuse, drug abuse
Katrin Gold seems to have the perfect life. She has created it for herself, having come from nothing. But as she hosts a celebration for her latest achievement, an incident occurs that could change her life forever and reveal secrets…
Homecoming is a psychological thriller set in Dorset.
Katrin and her family are property developers and pride themselves on having created a perfect little community at the Starlings. But a night of celebration with their friends and neighbours ends in tragedy and the past haunts the attendees.
The book begins with the party and then leaves a cliffhanger so we don’t know who is missing or what might have happened to them. We are taken back in time to see the tensions, emotions and relationships between the characters. Lots of potential scenarios are set up and I was kept guessing about how the plot would progress.
There is also a lot of emotion in the book. I felt deeply saddened by the information about the history of the mother and baby home that treated young women so abominably. Frida’s awful family situation and the neglect she suffers is also very upsetting.
I felt that perhaps there was a little too much delay in getting back to the present day and finding out what had happened at the party and who was affected, but I loved the ensuing police investigation when we return to it. There are plenty of clues about secrets and lies that are hidden by various characters which are then gradually revealed.
Homecoming has an intriguing mystery at its heart.

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Welcome to The Starlings… sun, sea and neighbours to die for.
Security, a sparkling sea view and the best kind of neighbours – The Starlings gated community has it all. Here, doors are left open, children run free, and at the heart of it all is the entrepreneurial Gold Family, who first dreamed up this aspirational vision of ‘Dorset’s Safest Community’. To the outside world the popular family appears glitteringly blessed… until an idyllic party takes a dark turn and one of their number is found slumped at the foot of the clocktower. Who knows what really happened? And what answers are harboured within the old building, the former Highcap Mother and Baby Home?’
A mesmerising, character-rich thriller with a long-buried secret vibrating at its core: this is Isabel Ashdown at her heart-stopping best, for readers who enjoyed Big Little Lies, Doctor Foster or Little Fires Everywhere.


#Project52 2024 week 25

Final full week of GCSE and A Level exams, just a couple of smaller ones left next week. The relentless job of meal planning was made slightly better by Matthew making fishcakes at school. It brings back memories of when I handmade lots of things for my babies and then gave up and bought supermarket versions!
Finishing off the week and weekend with a PTA colour run, Father’s Day and football and I’m happy to report that England won!


The Word is Murder, by Anthony Horowitz (audiobook read by Rory Kinnear)

Author Anthony Horowitz is called upon by ex detective Hawthorne to write a true crime book about the case of a woman who was murdered hours after arranging her own funeral.
The Word is Murder is the first book in the Hawthorne and Horowitz murder mystery and detective series.
I LOVE LOVE LOVE the premise of this book, that the author has written about himself as a fictional character. The book is written in the first person and Horowitz’s voice shines through, especially with the audio narration (even though he doesn’t do it himself).
In contrast with the warm and wit of Horowitz, Hawthorne is dreadful! He is homophobic, misogynistic and racist, with the social graces of a neanderthal. But his detecting skills are brilliant and truly a redeeming feature. Both main characters are vividly captured in the pages of this book and I was immersed in their lives.
The case that Hawthorne wants help with is the death of a woman who organised her own funeral just hours before being found strangled. Did she know she was about to be murdered? The plot is entertaining and kept me guessing as the detecting duo get to work on analysing the clues, motives and suspects.
The Word is Murder is so cleverly and authentically written and I can’t wait to read (or listen to) the rest of the series.

The Word Is Murder book cover

Book blurb
One bright spring morning in London, Diana Cowper – the wealthy mother of a famous actor – enters a funeral parlor. She is there to plan her own service.

Six hours later she is found dead, strangled with a curtain cord in her own home.

Enter disgraced police detective Daniel Hawthorne, a brilliant, eccentric investigator who’s as quick with an insult as he is to crack a case. Hawthorne needs a ghost writer to document his life; a Watson to his Holmes. He chooses Anthony Horowitz.

Drawn in against his will, Horowitz soon finds himself a the center of a story he cannot control. Hawthorne is brusque, temperamental and annoying but even so his latest case with its many twists and turns proves irresistible. The writer and the detective form an unusual partnership. At the same time, it soon becomes clear that Hawthorne is hiding some dark secrets of his own.

A masterful and tricky mystery that springs many surprises, The Word is Murder is Anthony Horowitz at his very best.


The Housemaid is Watching, by Freida McFadden

The Housemaid is Watching book cover

Millie, her husband and her children, are excited to move into a new home. But their happiness is threatened by one neighbour’s relentless flirting and snide comments, and another neighbour being unfriendly and judgemental. Things get even worse when a body is discovered…
The Housemaid is Watching is the third book to feature Millie, a woman with a dangerous past. I have previously read and reviewed the first two books, The Housemaid and The Housemaid’s Secret. This book works perfectly well as a stand alone book but there is sufficient information about Millie’s past to understand her emotions and reactions.
We last saw Millie over a whole decade ago according to this timeline. She is now happily married to Enzo and they have two children. She no longer cleans for others and finds her new social work career fulfilling. But a new home brings financial worries as well as trying to make friends among her new neighbours who seem determined to be negative.
The first half of the book is quite slow, building up the tension for Millie and her family. I admit I got a little bored waiting for something concrete to happen but then… POW!!! The pace picks up spectacularly later on when the body is discovered (it was NOT who I expected!) Chapters shorten and Millie’s panic about rapid developments is effectively conveyed.
As usual for this series, there is a change of perspective which alters our perception of events with a shock! I did kind of guess the twist but it went beyond what I expected and the epilogue delivers a final surprise.
The Housemaid is Watching is a wonderfully tense psycholoigcal thriller.

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The Housemaid is Watching by Freida McFadden
“You must be our new neighbors!” Mrs. Lowell gushes and waves across the picket fence. I clutch my daughter’s hand and smile back: but the second Mrs. Lowell sees my husband a strange expression crosses her face. In that moment I make a promise. We finally have a family home. My past is far, far behind us. And I’ll do anything to keep it that way…
I used to clean other people’s houses—now, I can’t believe this home is actually mine. The charming kitchen, the quiet cul-de-sac, the huge yard where my kids can play. My husband and I saved for years to give our children the life they deserve.
Even though I’m wary of our new neighbor Mrs. Lowell, when she invites us over for dinner it’s our chance to make friends. Her maid opens the door wearing a white apron, her hair in a tight bun. I know exactly what it’s like to be in her shoes. But her cold stare gives me chills…
The Lowells’ maid isn’t the only strange thing on our street. I’m sure I see a shadowy figure watching us. My husband leaves the house late at night. And when I meet a woman who lives across the way, her words chill me to the bone: Be careful of your neighbors.
Did I make a terrible mistake moving my family here?
I thought I’d left my darkest secrets behind. But could this quiet suburban street be the most dangerous place of all?
From New York TimesUSA Today and Wall Street Journal bestselling author Freida McFadden comes the next installment of the unbelievably twisty, tension-packed and globally bestselling Housemaid series. This book can be enjoyed as a standalone read: and once you start, it will have you up all night racing through the pages until the final explosive twist.
Buy link: https://geni.us/B0CK4YL5FMsocial

#1 New York Times, Amazon Charts, USA Today, Wall Street Journal, Sunday Times, and Publisher’s Weekly bestselling author Freida McFadden is a practicing physician specializing in brain injury who has penned multiple bestselling psychological thrillers and medical humor novels. Freida’s work has been selected as one of Amazon Editors’ best books of the year, she is the winner of the International Thriller Writers Award for best paperback, and she is a Goodreads Choice Award winner. Her novels have been translated into 40 languages.
Freida lives with her family and black cat in a centuries-old three-story home overlooking the ocean, with staircases that creak and moan with each step, and nobody could hear you if you scream. Unless you scream really loudly, maybe.
To hear Freida talk about herself more in the third person, check out her website freidamcfadden.com

 

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