Happy 2018, reader!! Today marks my first “Monthly Wrap Up” post of the new year—if you’re a newer CBTB reader, these posts will provide you with a rundown of my reads, reviews, and additional blog content from the past month on Crime by the Book!
Ironically, January 2018 was probably one of the slowest reading months I’ve had since starting this blog. Life and worked slowed down my reading in a big way—but hey, it happens! Despite it being a slower bookish month, I read a couple of stellar crime novels (TANGERINE by Christine Mangan and THE PERFECT MOTHER by Aimee Molloy) that I will absolutely be recommending throughout the year, so I’m counting that as a huge win. I also got creative with some fun new features for CBTB to kick off the new year - you’ll find those linked in the “Additional Blog Posts” section of this post!
Let’s start things off with a few bookish stats from my month in reading:
Books Read: 5
Pages Read: 1,744
Favorite Read of the Month: TANGERINE by Christine Mangan
Least Favorite Read of the Month: THE ELIZAS by Sara Shepard
And now, on to my January 2018 Wrap-Up!
January 2018 Wrap-Up
TANGERINE by Christine Mangan
CBTB Rating: 5/5
The Verdict: an outstanding debut in the vein of Patricia Highsmith
Read CBTB’s Review
Every so often, a debut crime novel comes along that is so technically sound and vividly imagined, you can hardly believe the author really has never published a book before. TANGERINE by Christine Mangan (on sale March 27th, 2018) is one such read. This impeccably delivered suspense novel sets a plot worthy of Patricia Highsmith against the backdrop of dazzling, almost larger-than-life 1950’s Morocco. Maddening, gripping, enchanting—I’m at risk of running out of adjectives to describe just how wholly impressive this debut is. Come for TANGERINE’s stunning package and superb early praise; stay for its razor-sharp portrayal of obsession and manipulation, set against cinematic scenery. It’s no surprise that film rights for this novel have already been picked up by George Clooney’s Smokehouse Pictures—TANGERINE is built for the big screen, from its grand locale to its hypnotic suspense. In a story humming with interpersonal tension and simmering with the heat and haze of Morocco, Mangan weaves an outstanding and transportive thriller that will delight fans of Patricia Highsmith, Gillian Flynn, and Alfred Hitchcock; yes, really, this book is that good. Frankly, if Christine Mangan isn’t a rising literary star, I just don’t know who is.
LET ME LIE by Clare Mackintosh
CBTB Rating: 4/5
The Verdict: slow-burning, lighter suspense with a killer ending
Read CBTB’s Review
There are a handful of authors whose books have been central to Crime by the Book—and Clare Mackintosh is one of them. Clare’s debut novel I LET YOU GO was actually included in the first-ever bundle of “bookmail” I received for review on my blog (a story which I never tire of telling!), so her work will always hold a special place in my heart. In her debut I LET YOU GO, Clare proved that she can write psychological suspense that's emotional while also delivering major shock value (best plot twist ever!); in I SEE YOU, she wrote a more traditional and straightforward psychological thriller that I actually loved even more for its ability to deliver entertainment and tension without any frills. LET ME LIE showcases yet another facet of Clare’s talent, delving into a story that is perhaps her lightest in suspense yet, but that explores family dynamics - and secrets - to great effect. As always, I’ll be honest - I SEE YOU will probably always be my favorite of her books, and LET ME LIE didn’t dethrone it, but don’t let that deter you. LET ME LIE is heart-tugging, tense, and subtle… so subtle, in fact, that I didn’t even know how wrong everything I thought I knew was until the book’s gut-punch ending.
THE PERFECT MOTHER by Aimee Molloy
CBTB Rating: 4.5/5
The Verdict: compulsively readable & utterly binge-worthy
Read CBTB’s Review
When I picked up THE PERFECT MOTHER by Aimee Molloy (on sale May 1st), I was hoping for a domestic thriller that would fill the BEHIND CLOSED DOORS-shaped hole in my heart—and that’s exactly what I found. THE PERFECT MOTHER is that perfect blend of breezy plotting, chilling subject matter, and addictive interpersonal drama that makes for what I like to call “popcorn reading”: an utterly addictive, can’t-get-enough kind of read. Following a group of trendy Brooklyn moms whose lives are rocked by a terrible tragedy, Molloy’s stellar suspense novel will perfectly suit readers looking to add another binge-read to their spring reading list. Fans of BEHIND CLOSED DOORS by B.A. Paris, LIE TO ME by J.T. Ellison, and BIG LITTLE LIES by Liane Moriarty will feel right at home in Molloy’s story of the pressures of motherhood and the lies friends hide from one another. There’s nothing like getting swept up in a page-turning domestic thriller, and if that’s what you’re in the market for, THE PERFECT MOTHER will be a surefire hit.
THIS IS HOW IT ENDS by Eva Dolan
CBTB Rating: 3/5
The Verdict: gritty, socially-conscious crime fiction
Read CBTB’s Review
Eva Dolan is a name that I hear over and over again when chatting with UK-based readers - so when I discovered that her latest standalone was set to be released in the US this spring, I knew I had to jump at the chance to read it for myself. THIS IS HOW IT ENDS (on sale 3/13/18) will suit readers looking for a crime book that shifts focus away from the crime at its core and towards the social and cultural tensions that precipitated it—and the interpersonal fallout that it, in turn, precipitates. Thought-provoking and gritty, this socially-aware crime novel delivered one of my more conflicted reading experiences in recent memory. Dolan’s writing is razor-sharp and astute, yet the book’s plotting failed to deliver on its ambitious structure; the book’s characters are vivid and unique if often unlikeable; its first half is a bit slow and cumbersome while its second half is gripping and shocking. Writing this review has been a challenge precisely because there were just as many things I enjoyed about this book as there were qualities to it that frustrated me. Dolan’s writing has - deservedly so - garnered outstanding praise, and I’m confident many of you will find this book quite up your alley—but I’m equally convinced that your expectations for this book will need to be fine-tuned in order for you to fully enjoy it. My ultimate recommendation for this book? Borrow it from your library to see if it’s for you.
THE ELIZAS by Sara Shepard
CBTB Rating: 3/5
The Verdict: light suspense better for YA readers
Review to come!
I'm a huge fan of Pretty Little Liars, and dove into this book hoping for a read that would deliver a similar dramatic, easy-to-binge experience—and THE ELIZAS delivered just that, albeit perhaps a slightly lighter version than I had hoped for. This suspense novel will be a great choice for folks who typically read young adult fiction and are looking to branch out into adult crime fiction: it's light on violence and brimming with interpersonal drama and touches of suspense. Similarly, fans of PLL will also feel right at home in the world of THE ELIZAS. However, I wouldn't feel comfortable rating this book higher than a 3/5 for readers who are (like myself) avid readers of adult thrillers—it just doesn't have the psychological heft or complex plotting that many other upcoming psychological thrillers have (like SOMETIMES I LIE by Alice Feeney and TANGERINE by Christine Mangan). I'm confident this book will find exactly the audience it's meant for - and I certainly breezed through this book, and enjoyed the reading process! - but THE ELIZAS won't be the right choice for readers looking to match the shocks and plot twists of some of my go-to thriller recommendations. If the plot of THE ELIZAS intrigues you but you're interested in a more adult-oriented thriller, check out LIES SHE TOLD by Cate Holahan.
Additional January Blog Posts:
- Q&A: Will Dean, Author of DARK PINES
- Interview: C.J. Tudor, Author of THE CHALK MAN
- Interview: A.J. Finn, Author of THE WOMAN IN THE WINDOW
- Most-Anticipated Crime Books of Early 2018
- New Release Tuesday - January 2nd, 2018
- 8 Gripping Domestic Thrillers to Add to Your TBR
- Recommended January Releases
- CBTB’s Essential Nordic Noir