Lying in Wait – Liz Nugent

lyinginwaitLiz Nugent does it again with Lying in Wait! If you were stunned by Unraveling Oliver, this will be right in your wheelhouse. Lying in Wait is a thrill ride right from the opening sentence. This is not a simple “who’s the killer?” mystery. Nugent deftly reveals the murderer on the first page. The whodunit and the whydunit are not the core of the story — it’s the family collapse and desperate murder cover-up that make this book so enthralling.

I don’t want to delve too much into the story for fear of giving something away, but it begins with Lydia, an agoraphobic, mentally-unstable housewife of a crumbling estate, and her obsession with her only child, Laurence. Lydia has a shady past that she’d rather not come to light, and more recently has been involved in a murder that she wants kept under wraps, no matter the cost. Laurence pieces together the truth about his mother, and events spiral out of control.

As in Unraveling Oliver, Nugent doles out the story from multiple points-of-view, which rounds out the perspective and gives it some depth. Numerous twists and interwoven relationships will spin you around, and no detail is irrelevant. The ending is satisfying with enough mystery to keep you speculating about what really happened.

Definitely pick this one up! Once you do, you won’t want to put it down.

Many thanks to Simon & Schuster | Scout Press/Gallery Books and Netgalley for the opportunity to read and review this book.

Melmoth – Sarah Perry

melmothThis book is just what I hoped for with Sarah Perry’s new novel: chilling and wonderfully Gothic.

Melmoth the Witness has been roaming the earth for 2,000 years, seeking others to commiserate with her in their crimes of betrayal and cowardice. Melmoth is always in the shadows, her black shroud dripping on the cobblestones, her bloody feet leaving streaks on the floor. The imagery is eerie and those who see her suffer from their guilt. Melmoth is interspersed with a series of vignettes of the Witness’s encounters throughout history, each story coming together in a powerful denouement.

The story follows Helen Franklin, a lonely translator in Prague, who falls prey to the lure of the Melmoth legend after her friend Karel disappears. Helen investigates Karel’s Melmoth documents and realizes her connection to the legend is far stronger than she realized. This novel capitalizes on the fears of the guilty, their foreboding anxiety of being discovered, and the realization that there is no way out.

This is a solid follow-up to Perry’s The Essex Serpent. I look forward to reading her next one!

Many thanks to Custom House (HarperCollins) and Edelweiss for the advance copy in exchange for my review.

The Vanishing – Sophia Tobin

vanishingSet in the dreary Yorkshire moors . . . Annaleigh, a foundling raised by a portrait painter, runs from a doomed romantic entanglement to be a servant at White Windows to a brother and sister, Marcus and Hester Twentyman.

Two other mysterious servants warn her not to develop any kind of friendship with the Twentymans, no matter how warm or inviting they seem. Annaleigh soon discovers that Marcus is volatile and tempestuous, often running into the foggy moor at night to be alone. Hester is timid and paranoid, and suffers from crippling headaches.

The beginning of the story is compelling and has all the elements required for a juicy gothic thriller. The darkness and isolation of the moors enhance the creepiness and claustrophobia of White Windows. There is no escape from the house, nowhere to run. The atmosphere is chilling with a constant presence of foreboding.

The second half of the book, however, becomes more unbelievable, and the characters are inconsistent. Their motivations are ambiguous and their reactions are often incongruous with their earlier temperaments. The story is still interesting enough keep the pages turning, but it requires a strong desire to suspend disbelief in order to accept the plot developments. The plot twists left me with a lot of questions, and the inexplicable actions of the characters were distracting.

I always enjoy a spooky tale, and The Vanishing did not disappoint, but other reviewers’ comparisons to Jane Eyre and Fingersmith are too generous. Despite its flaws, if you seek out Gothic mysteries, as I do, The Vanishing is for you.

Many thanks to Netgalley and Simon and Schuster for the advance copy.