EXQUISITE by Sarah Stovell
Orenda Books; 6/15/17 (UK) & 10/1/17 (US)
Summer Reading Preview
Listen up, psychological thriller readers: I have a must-read book recommendation for you.
Yesterday I finished reading EXQUISITE by Sarah Stovell, and I'm still reeling from it. This blend of Fatal Attraction-meets-twisty thriller must be one of the most entertaining books I've read all year, and today I'm sharing 3 reasons why this book belongs on your TBR! I'll be sharing my full review of this book as part of its blog tour in June (my tour date is June 17th. to be specific!!) but in the meantime, here's a preview of why EXQUISITE by Sarah Stovell is a must-read.
But first things first: plot summary!
Bo Luxton has it all—a loving family, a beautiful home in the Lake District, and a clutch of bestselling books to her name. Enter Alice Dark, an aspiring writer who is drifting through life, with a series of dead-end jobs and a freeloading boyfriend. When they meet at a writers’ retreat, the chemistry is instant, and a sinister relationship develops. Or does it? Breathlessly pacey, taut and terrifying, Exquisite is a startlingly original and unbalancing psychological thriller that will keep you guessing until the very last page.
3 Reasons to Add EXQUISITE to your TBR
1. It's a thriller about writers. There's something perennially appealing about books that explore the literary world. EXQUISITE sets a psychological suspense plot within the world of writers, as it traces the progression of attraction to deadly obsession between a bestselling author and an aspiring author. Books are central to this thriller—and honestly, who could ask for a better combination?
2. It's tense and sexy. I'm not one for romance novels, and EXQUISITE definitely isn't a romance—but it is laced with sexual tension between its two main characters. I couldn't help but love the way the author illustrates the affection and obsession between these two. It's dark, taut, and sensual. Don't think of this as a romantic suspense novel - it's NOT that; think of it as a Fatal Attraction-like story where forbidden romance turns deadly.
3. It's mind-bending, twisty fun. This book is surprising and entertaining in all the right ways. With twists a plenty and genuine surprises in store, EXQUISITE kept me questioning everything until the very last page. (And even after the last page, let's be honest.) Readers looking for escapist, addictive psychological thriller reading will find their perfect match in EXQUISITE.
EXQUISITE will release in the U.K. on June 15th, and in the US on October 1st. (American readers, remember: you can always use our friend BookDepository to snag a copy before October!)
And make sure to follow along with the upcoming EXQUISITE blog tour for reviews, author interviews, and more!
Happy weekend, readers! It’s been a little while since I did a Weekend Checklist - so I’m rectifying that today! In this post, you’ll find all the crime fiction entertainment I’m recommending - and loving myself! - this weekend, including a “Weekend Binge-Read,” a true-crime podcast recommendation, a TV series, and more. Without further ado, let’s dive right in. Happy reading!
Have you read a crime novel by Sharon Bolton yet? If not, make THE CRAFTSMAN your entree into this prolific UK-based author’s world. As a newcomer to Bolton’s work myself, I can safely say I have been missing out. Told primarily through an extended flashback, THE CRAFTSMAN immerses readers in the case that defined protagonist Florence Lovelady’s career as a police officer in the small village of Lancashire, England: a series of twisted child murders. THE CRAFTSMAN is just about everything you could hope for from a fall thriller: it’s deliciously chilling, rich in atmosphere, and laced with a touch of the supernatural. Add into this already-appealing mix a fiercely independent female protagonist and a decades-old mystery, and you’ve got yourself a recipe for fall reading success. Now, I consider myself quite skeptical when it comes to crime novels with supernatural elements, but my skepticism was, in this case, totally unnecessary. Much like the ghost stories of Icelandic crime writer Yrsa Sigurdardottir, Sharon Bolton’s newest thriller gracefully blends real world and supernatural scares. The result? A suspense novel that feels all the more immersive for the unique world built within its pages. In short, I savored every page of this spine-tingling mystery, and highly recommend THE CRAFTSMAN for your October (and Halloween, in particular!) reading lists.
One of the very best things about attending crime conferences like Bouchercon is having the chance to learn about the books you love from their authors. While at this year’s Bouchercon, I had the wonderful opportunity to interview Caz Frear, author of SWEET LITTLE LIES - an exceptional debut that just released in August! SWEET LITTLE LIES tells the story of a young female police officer whose personal life collides with her professional life in a chilling and layered mystery. I absolutely loved this book, and was so excited to sit down with its very talented author to talk about her debut, her book’s protagonist, what comes next for her, and more.
This past weekend, I had the incredible opportunity to attend Bouchercon 2018! Known as the “World Mystery Convention,” Bouchercon brings together crime writers, readers, industry members, and more for a long weekend of crime fiction fun. One of my personal favorite things about Bouchercon is that it changes location every year; last year, Bouchercon was held in Toronto, Canada, and this year it was held in St. Petersburg, Florida! There’s nothing more inspiring to me than spending time with folks who are as passionate about the crime fiction genre as I am, and I left Bouchercon 2018 feeling totally energized and excited by all that I learned over the course of the conference. In my Bouchercon 2018 Crime Festival Journal, you will find a day-by-day recap of my time in St. Petersburg, including book and author recommendations from the weekend, recaps of author interviews and panels, and lots of photos!
There’s something about the tried-and-true police procedural that always keeps me coming back for more—and finding an author who can write a police procedural in as fresh, modern a way as can Caz Frear is a genuine treat. SWEET LITTLE LIES follows a female policewoman in London whose personal life collides with her work in a dark and dangerous way. Cat Kinsella is called to the scene of a crime: the body of a young woman has been found not far from the pub that her estranged father still runs. Things become stranger still when Cat receives a mysterious call linking this murder to the disappearance of a young woman in Ireland years prior—a young woman whom Cat and her family saw just days before she went missing. Cat had long suspected that her father knew more about the young woman’s disappearance than he admitted… and her latest work assignment will now give her a new opportunity to investigate her own past. SWEET LITTLE LIES is an astonishingly assured debut; Cat Kinsella is a fantastic protagonist, and readers will love the complexity and precision of plotting Caz Frear puts forth in this mystery. With her first suspense novel, Frear has established herself as an author to watch - I have no doubt we’ll be hearing of Frear’s work for years to come. Highly recommended for readers looking for a slow-burning, layered mystery that puts a fresh spin on classic police procedurals, and injects a male-dominated genre with a fiercely feminist protagonist.
I’ve heard raves of LIES by T.M. Logan from friends across the pond and early readers here in the US alike, but my reading experience with this buzzy psychological thriller was unfortunately less than stellar. Though undeniably binge-worthy and easy to devour, LIES was quite significantly spoiled for this reader thanks to an entirely out-of-left-field finale - a conclusion so dramatic and over-the-top I couldn’t help but feel I’d been duped. There’s no fair play here - readers are never given the chance to piece together the story’s conclusion, with the author favoring pure shock value over logical plotting. If you’re a reader who considers that fair play important, you’ll want to avoid LIES—you will very likely be frustrated by its bizarre and melodramatic finale. If, however, you’re just in it for the entertainment value - and there’s absolutely no shame in that, I might add - LIES may deliver just enough of that shock value to make it worth your while. However, I would recommend adding this one to your library list rather than purchasing a copy - it may work for you in the end, but I wouldn’t feel comfortable sending you out to spend your hard-earned money on it.
‘Tis the season… for Bouchercon! Every fall, crime writers and readers gather for Bouchercon, the World Mystery Convention. Last year’s Bouchercon took place in Toronto, and this year it will be held in sunny St. Petersburg, Florida. 2017 was my first time attending Bouchercon, and, if it’s possible, I’m even more excited for my second Bouchercon than I was for my first! Read on for an overview of Bouchercon 2018, including a list of my most-anticipated panels and author appearances, and the conference “extras” I can’t wait to attend!
It’s hard to believe that summer is coming to an end! I, for one, am so excited about the encroaching autumn - can you say perfect mystery reading weather?! But before summer comes to an end, there’s still time to grab a few end-of-summer (and totally fantastic) reads. My August recommendations list has a whole variety of new crime fiction for your consideration: from claustrophobic Icelandic crime fiction to a modern spin on the police procedural to binge-worthy “popcorn reads.” There are some genuinely unique and very exciting new reads to add to your TBR this month, and I'm so excited to share this list with you today!
I fell head-over-heels for bestselling author J.T. Ellison’s 2017 standalone thriller LIE TO ME last summer—so you can imagine my excitement when a copy of her newest release, TEAR ME APART, landed on my doorstep. There’s something about Ellison’s writing that just seems to work for me; though my exposure to her writing has been relatively limited compared to the extensive bibliography she has under her belt, I’m now two-for-two on loving her binge-worthy brand of psychological suspense. Though totally distinct stories, LIE TO ME and TEAR ME APART both feature a deep-dive into the personal lives of individuals working in unique professions: in LIE TO ME, the protagonists were authors, and in TEAR ME APART, the story’s central character is a professional skier and Olympic hopeful. Ellison has a knack for using these unique backdrops as springboards for truly gripping suspense stories—the page-turning fun of her writing is rivaled by the fascinating worlds in which these stories take place. TEAR ME APART is a more-than-satisfying follow-up to 2017’s LIE TO ME, and an excellent choice for readers looking to sneak in another “summer read” before the season ends. I’d expect nothing less from Ellison than a book this fun to devour, and she delivers and then some in TEAR ME APART.
Crime writing powerhouse Karin Slaughter has a brand-new book out this week: PIECES OF HER, a gripping story of a young woman who discovers that the person she thought she knew best in the world - her mom - isn’t at all who she believed her to be. On Monday, I had the incredible opportunity to join Karin in conversation at New York’s legendary Strand Bookstore to discuss PIECES OF HER! Interviewing Karin at the Strand was an absolute highlight of my Crime by the Book years thus far, and I’m so excited to share a recap of the event with you today. In this post, you’ll find a recap of the event, including a video of it (courtesy of the Strand’s YouTube!), a rundown of where you can catch Karin on tour for her newest book, and more information on PIECES OF HER!