Stillhouse Lake by Rachel Caine



source: free copy via AmazonPrime reads
title: Stillhouse Lake
author: Rachel Caine
pages: 292 Kindle version
published: 2017
first line: Gina never asked about the garage.
rated: 3 1/2 out of 5 stars

blurb:
Gina Royal is the definition of average—a shy Midwestern housewife with a happy marriage and two adorable children. But when a car accident reveals her husband’s secret life as a serial killer, she must remake herself as Gwen Proctor—the ultimate warrior mom.

With her ex now in prison, Gwen has finally found refuge in a new home on remote Stillhouse Lake. Though still the target of stalkers and Internet trolls who think she had something to do with her husband’s crimes, Gwen dares to think her kids can finally grow up in peace.

But just when she’s starting to feel at ease in her new identity, a body turns up in the lake—and threatening letters start arriving from an all-too-familiar address. Gwen Proctor must keep friends close and enemies at bay to avoid being exposed—or watch her kids fall victim to a killer who takes pleasure in tormenting her. One thing is certain: she’s learned how to fight evil. And she’ll never stop.

My thoughts:
Stillhouse Lake is an Amazon Prime free read book that I downloaded last year and finally now made the time to read it. This is book 1 in a 5 book series so far.
At the heart of the story is Gina Royal. She is a housewife and mother who has been unknowingly married to serial killer Mel for nearly a decade. The garage was his “workshop” and the police discover a corpse hanging from the ceiling. When Mel is arrested, Gina is also initially arrested because they suspect her of aiding and abetting. She’s found innocent and goes into hiding with her two children daughter Lanny and son Connor.

Due to their being connected to a serial killer, Gina and the kids receive death threats and are harassed by internet trolls and stalkers. Gina is now Gwen Proctor and never stays in one place for long. She’s got disposable phones, takes shooting lessons and owns guns. Gina and the kids currently reside in an area called Stillhouse Lake. Just as they are finally getting comfortable and considering maybe staying there long term, a corpse turns up in the lake and Gina/Gwen looks very suspicious. She wonders if her ex-husband is pulling some strings from prison.

“Mel infected me like a virus, and I have an unhealthy surety deep down that I’ll never get completely well again.” p. 20, Stillhouse Lake by Rachel Caine

Well, you need to suspend disbelief in order to enjoy Stillhouse Lake. I get Gina leaving and starting over with the kids but I wondered about there there being that many online stalkers being that kind of a threat to their lives. These stalkers would have to of had FBI connections the way Gina was acting in order to avoid them from finding her. Their motive is that they think Gina was helping her husband with the murders so they want her dead.
Also, Gina’s serial killer husband’s workshop was the garage and neither Gina nor the children ever went into the garage? Gina was just okay with her husband having a secret workshop in the garage with a padlock on it that she was not allowed to step foot in?



I liked that Gina is a strong woman and mother. She’s different now after finding out her husband is a serial killer. She reflects on how manipulative and controlling Mel was and on all the signs she missed. Gina is extremely over the top with paranoia and at one point she even goes through the motions in her mind of possibly having to shoot a cop who came to question her at home. The paranoia made her a somewhat irritating character. The children are likeable characters and the struggles they were going through with having trauma over their father as well as trying to acclimate to always being on the run etc. were believable. Much of Gina’s thoughts are about wondering if their lives can ever be normal.

As the story flows, there’s a few other characters introduced such as Javi from the gun range and the neighbor Sam and sometimes you don’t know who Gina can actually trust. Gina’s husband is still manipulating her from death row and I wondered how it would all wrap up. Also, why was Gina’s ex-husband so evil to her and the kids once he was caught? He really wanted her to suffer and didn’t care about the children anymore. He was a cardboard cutout of an evil villain.

Overall, Stillhouse Lake was a thrilling, well written story even if it was a little over the top. The ending wrapped it all up while leaving it wide open for the next installment and there’s a twist I did not see coming. This is the first book in the series but I don’t think I’ll be reading any of the others anytime soon.

“The hard part, I realize isn’t letting him know the truth; it’s this ripping fear inside now that he’ll turn his back on me, that this is the last moment we’ll be friends, or even friendly. I never thought that would hurt, but it does. The fragile little roots I’d been putting down, ripping away. Maybe it’s for the best, I try to tell myself, but all I feel is grief.” p.150, Stillhouse Lake

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Disclaimer: This review is my honest opinion. I did not receive any kind of compensation for reading and reviewing this book. I am under no obligation to write a positive review. I received my copy of Stillhouse Lake by Rachel Caine via AmazonPrime free reads. Some of the links in the post are affiliate links. If you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive a small affiliate commission.

Then She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell

thenshesource: personal copy
title: Then She Was Gone
author:Lisa Jewell
genre: crime thriller/mystery
published: April 17th 2018
pages: 359
first line: Laurel let herself into her daughter’s flat.
rated: 4 out of 5 stars
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blurb:
Ellie Mack was the perfect daughter. She was fifteen, the youngest of three. She was beloved by her parents, friends, and teachers. She and her boyfriend made a teenaged golden couple. She was days away from an idyllic post-exams summer vacation, with her whole life ahead of her.

And then she was gone.

Now, her mother Laurel Mack is trying to put her life back together. It’s been ten years since her daughter disappeared, seven years since her marriage ended, and only months since the last clue in Ellie’s case was unearthed. So when she meets an unexpectedly charming man in a café, no one is more surprised than Laurel at how quickly their flirtation develops into something deeper. Before she knows it, she’s meeting Floyd’s daughters—and his youngest, Poppy, takes Laurel’s breath away.

Because looking at Poppy is like looking at Ellie. And now, the unanswered questions she’s tried so hard to put to rest begin to haunt Laurel anew. Where did Ellie go? Did she really run away from home, as the police have long suspected, or was there a more sinister reason for her disappearance? Who is Floyd, really? And why does his daughter remind Laurel so viscerally of her own missing girl?

my thoughts:
Then She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell is my first read of 2020. I happily kicked off my new reading year with a great crime thriller. This is my first foray into this author’s work and it won’t be my last.

The book centers around Laurel Mack whose daughter Ellie disappeared ten years ago. Since then Laurel’s marriage has ended, her other two children have moved out and she lives in a small apartment alone and works part time. When a few more clues are found concerning the case, Laurel finally tries to move on with her life. She meets a single dad named Floyd. He lives with his daughter Poppy.

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Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

gone

source: purchased
title: Gone Girl
author: Gillian Flynn  / Twitter
genre: crime thriller/mystery/suspense
pages: 422
published: June 2012
first line: When I think of my wife, I always think of her head.
rated: 4 out of 5 stars
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Blurb:

On a warm summer morning in North Carthage, Missouri, it is Nick and Amy Dunne’s fifth wedding anniversary. Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick’s clever and beautiful wife disappears. Husband-of-the-Year Nick isn’t doing himself any favors with cringe-worthy daydreams about the slope and shape of his wife’s head, but passages from Amy’s diary reveal the alpha-girl perfectionist could have put anyone dangerously on edge. Under mounting pressure from the police and the media—as well as Amy’s fiercely doting parents—the town golden boy parades an endless series of lies, deceits, and inappropriate behavior. Nick is oddly evasive, and he’s definitely bitter—but is he really a killer?

My Thoughts:
Oh Gillian Flynn, how you love to mess with people’s emotions while reading.
Gone Girl is my third Gillian Flynn book and I am eagerly awaiting for her to pen another novel. This author easily became an instant favorite after I read Sharp Objects then Dark Places. I went into this one pretty much blindly, I have not seen the film version and I did not know much about the story-line except that the wife went missing.

While I enjoyed reading Gone Girl overall I did have one qualm. The slow pace from the beginning to the middle of the novel. I kept wanting something to happen. Once the latter half of the book picked up I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough. The story is narrated in alternating chapters by married couple Nick and Amy. We get Nick’s side of the story then we get Amy’s diary entries and her side of the story.

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Mind Games (Kaely Quinn Profiler #1)

mind

source: free ARC via Bethany House (Twitter)
title: Mind Games (Kaely Quinn Profiler Book 1)
author:Nancy Mehl (Twitter)
published: December 4th 2018 by Bethany House Publishers
pages: 336
genre: Suspense/Mystery/Christian Fiction
first line: He stood in the middle of his secret room, staring at walls covered with old newspaper clippings.
rated: 4 out of 5 stars
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blurb:
Kaely Quinn’s talents as an FBI behavior analyst are impossible to ignore, no matter how unorthodox her methods. But when a reporter outs her as the daughter of an infamous serial killer, she’s demoted to field agent and transferred to St. Louis.

When the same reporter who ruined her career claims to have received an anonymous poem predicting a string of murders, ending with Kaely’s, the reporter’s ulterior motives bring his claim into question. But when a body is found that fits the poem’s predictions, the threat is undeniable, and the FBI sends Special Agent Noah Hunter to St. Louis.

Initially resentful of the assignment, Noah is surprised at how quickly his respect for Kaely grows, despite her oddities. But with a brazen serial killer who breaks all the normal patterns on the loose, Noah and Kaely are tested to their limits to catch the murderer before anyone else–including Kaely herself–is killed.

my thoughts:

Well, I have to start off by saying that Mind Games was so good! I still thought about it after I turned the final page. This book starts off the Kaely Quinn series by Nancy Mehl.

Kaely Quinn is a FBI behavior analyst who is known for her unconventional method for profiling suspects. She is the daughter of a notorious serial killer Ed Oliphant a.k.a. the Raggedy Man. Now there is a serial killer on the loose who seems to have it out for Kaely and writes a cryptic poem about his victims that has the FBI trying to figure out his next move.

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Sister of Mine by Laurie Petrou

sister

source: review copy courtesy of Meryl Moss Media
title: Sister of Mine
author: Laurie Petrou/ Twitter
pages: 294
genre: psychological thriller
first line: She breaks into a run as soon as she clears the flames.
rated: 4 out of 5
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blurb:
For fans of Sarah Pinborough and Liane Moriarty comes a taut domestic suspense about the lies we tell to hold our lives together.

Sisters, like secrets, are best kept close.

Penny and Hattie, orphaned sisters in a small town, are best friends, bound together to the point of knots. But Penny, at the mercy of her brutal husband, is desperate for a fresh start. Willing to do anything for her older sister, Hattie agrees to help. A match is struck and a fire burns Penny’s marriage to the ground. With her husband gone, Penny is free, and the sisters, it seems, get away with murder. But freedom comes at a cost.

More than a year after the fire, a charming young man comes to town. Hattie and Penny quickly bring him into the fold and into their hearts but their love for him threatens the delicate balance. Soon long-held resentments, sibling rivalry, and debts unpaid boil over, and the bonds of sisterhood begin to snap. As one little lie grows into the next, the sisters’ secrets will unravel, eroding their lives until only a single, horrible truth remains: You owe me.

A compelling novel of suspense from a talented new voice, Sister of Mine asks us to consider the bonds of family, what it takes to commit the unthinkable, and how far you’ll go to protect the ones you love.

my thoughts:

Sister of Mine is a multi layered novel about two sisters, Penny and Hattie, who are tied together by a dark secret. This secret rips them apart as the years go by because of resentments, lies, cover-ups and bad memories.

As the story opens, their mother who raised them died in an accident at home while Penny was away at college. Giving up her dreams of finishing school, Penelope comes back home after the death of her mother to take care of her younger sister Hattie. She gets a steady job and marries a local man who turns out to be an abuser. Terrified of her husband and what he is capable of Penny sees only one way to escape him. When her husband is found dead in a house fire, the two sisters just want to get on with their lives and leave his memory behind.

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