Book Review: I’ve Got My Eyes On You

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I’ve Got My Eyes On You is my Mary Higgins Clark book after quite a long time .

Plot Synopsis :

Kelly Dowling is found dead in the swimming pool in her house . She had hosted a party the previous night for her classmates before they all left for their respective colleges when her parents were away from home . The guests included Kerry’s Harvard-bound boyfriend Alan Crowley , with whom she had a serious fallout during the evening .  Jamie Chapman , Kerry’s next door neighbor was also angry that Kerry had not invited him to her party . Or is there somebody else? Aline , Kerry’s elder sister pitches in to help the police bring the sister’s murderer to justice – She just doesn’t know that Kerry’s killer is ready to kill a second time to save himself .

Hopefully I have got you sufficiently intrigued with this short blurb.

Review :

As I had mentioned at the start , I am picking up a Mary Higgins Clark after quite a long time . Also , having read several of her titles , I felt that this plot was comparatively a regular one and not something that makes you feel that ONLY the Queen of Suspense could pull off such a plot-line which she did every single time during the ’90s . Still , the storytelling kept me hooked till the last page and I never got an inkling about the identity of the killer .

The story is paced well so that people like me don’t take a peek at the last 2 chapters to get to know who is the murderer [ guilty of DOING it when the story moves slowly sometimes ] . This is one of my chief complaints with some of the new authors I have tried . Sometimes the suspense novels become family dramas when the writers try to pack too many into the book – too descriptive language and too much after-crime drama that the focus on the crime actually dwindles . Put that together with a plot-line which actually is not very interesting / follows similar trail like a previous read , you can be sure that I will plod on with that book during my short breaks in office when I can’t accommodate my one-sitting finish .

Trust Clark how to tell her story – all her books have been one-sitting reads for me and this one was no different . With Clark the story has the right amount of everything – You won’t be put off by the romance that is slowly developing as the novel proceeds or when you get to see the family dramas in the victim’s / suspects’ families . Clark surely knows how much of anything other than suspense ,  a suspense fanatic would accept in a suspense novel . While there have been complaints that Agatha Christie does not allow her characters to develop , you would never have that complaint with Clark – through her words you get to see the despair of the suspects , how the families of the victims cope with the loss of a loved one eventually and yet she keeps the narrative racy .

Of course , as someone who has read several of her titles I can identify with a few staples in her books – the female leads who are featured in Clark’s books do not rely on a man to help them with their problems despite being beautiful , successful and everything else that a female ought to be to qualify as a female lead in several of the books .  Not even one of them have been damsels in distress – they are ready to rough it out . And they have few good people helping them along the way . Another thing that stands out in a Clark novel is that the characters move on at the end of the book – they look forward to new beginnings . Perhaps , that might be a reflection of Clark’s own attitude to life – this needs some elaboration I guess . If you are free head on to this Wikipedia page to read her full bio – She truly is an inspiring lady . And of course , there is a romance slowly developing between two characters and a thrilling climax where the guy saves the girl from the deranged psychopath [Am I giving away too much ?? ] .

Yeah , I have a few favorite lines from her books which are so beautiful that makes you wonder if you are reading a suspense . Here are some for you…

[….] How can our all-loving and merciful God fail to protect us and those we love at the time when we most need him? […] ”

” The best answer I’ve heard came in a sermon given by an elderly priest many years ago. He was travelling in the Middle East and was overwhelmed by the majesty of the Persian rugs he saw . Those gorgeous creations skillfully woven into such beautiful designs . One day he was in a shop where those rugs were on display . He walked behind one that was hanging on hooks from the ceiling . Looking at it from behind , he was shocked to behold a confusing array of threads that led nowhere . Such beauty on one side , total disharmony on the other , but both part of the same plan . It was then that the message became clear to him . In life we see only the back side of the rug , We don’t know how or why our unspeakable hardships are part of a beautiful design . That is why having faith is so important .”

 

I guess I’ll leave you to check out this book for yourself . I would recommend it for all my readers and would love to hear from you about how your reading went .

Rating : 3.75 / 5 *

*  I have given a 3.75 because I have read other titles by the same author which had more complex plots and some even scared the hell out of me. For a first time Mary Higgins Clark reader , surely it would have been at-least a 4 pointer . So , make sure you pick up this book for a good suspense read .

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The Reunion – A review

The Reunion by Samantha Hayes is my latest ” psychological thriller” read . ( More on this below…. ) . Here’s my review of the book –

Plot Summary :

Claire’s father has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and her mother is finding it increasingly difficult to run the family farm while taking care of her father . While her mother is seriously considering putting up the place for sale , Claire decides to have a reunion with her gang at the farm one last time.  She has a firm belief that revisiting old memories would slowdown the progress of the disease for her father .

But she couldn’t have foreseen that her family and friends would be forced to relive the nightmarish days following the disappearance of  her sister Eleanor – this time it’s her friend’s teenaged daughter . Claire couldn’t miss out the jarring similarities between both the disappearances….


 

Review :

I just don’t get the idea of every suspense/thriller  being marketed as ” The psychological thriller with a twist that you wouldn’t see coming ” . I guess editors read every suspense/thrillers they’re editing to see if it could be marketed as ” The Next Gone Girl ” or like that tagline I mentioned above which are super-easy click-baits for suspense fanatics like me.  If they can’t , they probably ask the writer to sketch a plot with a shocking twist ( doesn’t matter if it is sans logic . . .The reader should not see it coming in any way…. ) .

What several publishers don’t realize is that when you are marketing a book as a psychological thriller , there should be a real psychological element . To begin with ,  let me start with the definition of the term –

Psychological thriller is a thriller narrative which emphasizes the unstable or delusional psychological states of its characters. [ Wikipedia definition ] .

To put is simply , it should delve deeper into the psyche of the  characters  – especially the ( most probably ) twisted psyche of the perpetrator  .You can probably  give me an idea of why (s)he is  , the way (s)he is … When you have the victim’s POV you can get an idea of the effect of the crime on the victim’s psyche and how it had affected his / her life .

And secondly , scare us with your shocking twists & your psychologically deranged characters . Few of Agatha Christie’s villains are more shocking than the villains of few of these new age ” psychological thrillers ” . The element of menace is clearly missing in many of  almost all of these books . When you don’t elaborate on the villain’s deranged tendencies  , please don’t expect me to be scared by a Mr.Hyde like villian who is shown to be actually the darker side of XYZ in your story . Seriously???

If you are wondering whether this is a rant or a review , it is both .

The narrative was engaging and the characters are well fleshed out . The premise looked good with the setting just right – a family home ,  a disappearance ( or probably a rehash of an earlier disappearance ?? ) , the darker sides of those close to us ….. And then the twist came – it just left me so disappointed .

I think The Reunion is a book where the last 30 pages was the undoing of the entire book . The ending was a shocker , I concede – just of a different kind though!! Clearly did not see what was coming , else I would not have bothered to finish the book .

Let me know your thoughts on the book if you have already read it…

Rating : 2.5 / 5

If you want some good suspense novels to add to your TBR check out these posts –

it’s always the husband – A Review

The Girl Before – A review

Seriously under-rated Christie must-reads

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BELIEVE ME -A review

I have finished J P Delaney’s latest just now – BELIEVE ME . I went into the book with some expectation based on his debut novel THE GIRL BEFORE . But , truth to be said , this has become yet another hastily-cooked-up-second-release-after-a promising-debut book .

Plot summary : 

Claire Wright likes to play other people. For Claire every day events play out like a movie scene in which she is an actor . She is also constantly on the lookout for gestures and nuances – both in others and herself which would be “ gold dust “ for her future roles . Picking up nuances is something that Claire does as everybody breathes , yet consciously she commits these nuances to memory to use them later in the appropriate circumstances – reel or real . An undocumented British drama student , she is employed by a firm of divorce lawyers to get incriminating evidence on straying husbands whose wives are the clients of the firm . Claire ’ s narrative is juxtaposed with movie scene script snippets which is an interesting twist to the regular narratives. She throws up words like jump cuts, montage scenes, acting styles…. – in short , a hardcore passionate student of theater who got her big break not in theater but in assisting the NYPD in unmasking a  killer .

When Stella Fogler is  found murdered in her hotel suite ,  Claire comes under police radar as she was one of the two people who last saw Stella alive .  As we all know , when a married woman is found murdered , its always the husband who becomes  the de facto suspect in the investigation and Patrick Fogler is no different . Patrick is incidentally the only husband who had rebuffed her advances when Claire  has put up her easy pick-up act . When a forensic profiler comes up with what she believes substantial evidence against Patrick Folgate ,  in not one ,  but several gruesome murders , Claire is asked by the police to entice Patrick into revealing his darker side ( is there one first ?? ) .

As Claire begins to forge an intimate relationship with Patrick  and the more she gets to know him , she begins to doubt the police theory and eventually the police force itself . How could such a faithful husband (despite his wife ‘ s doubts ) be a cold – blooded killer? Is there more to this whole ” operation ” as the forensic profiler terms it than what she has been told??

Does she know the actual picture ?

Or

The real Patrick ?

Review :

There are a few elements to the plot which however made the phrases ” No…not again ” , “ seen this before ”  circle my brain while I was reading this book too often . Frankly , this mix always goes for a very predictable ending – the unreliable narrator , the limited number of suspects , the very obvious motive(s) in some cases . It’s no surprise considering that there had been very few jigsaw puzzle pieces and the narrator had to play it up several ways deliberately before putting together the pieces  of the puzzle in the right place .

To begin with, the unreliable narrator trope – it has become something of a rage  staple for almost every ” psychological ” thriller that is being published nowadays . Maybe it goes the other way round too I guess – Get an unreliable narrator for your story and you have a psychological thriller .

It would be really good if our modern day suspense writers try to get the tone of the characters right to set a strong foundation for a psychological premise of the story  instead of relying solely on  the narrator . While Claire seemed to be characterized pretty well , the author hasn’t got the tone right for Patrick .

The book packs good number of twists to keep the reader continuing but the ending became very predictable and few elements were downright stupid . A random character pops up with obsessive tendencies ( however similar it may be to the  profile of the killer ) and attempts a murder . The plot just gets too obvious that I need to get to the final pages for a dramatic ending with the killer and this is just a decoy . If you actually want the reader to fall for your red herring atleast make it sound convincing . Sans motive , sans good number of pages / appearances the red herring becomes laughable .  And red herrings are meant to make the suspense game intense – not defuse the tension .

In all , I am in the mood for a good old fashioned detective story or a regular psychological thriller where the police are in the ground looking for clues and being just in time to foil the killer ‘ s plans for another murder or to simply haul him up reinforcing our faith that justice prevails ( atleast in fiction ) .  The unreliable narrators in the books I have read this year have made me wary of them for some time in the future definitely – the mere idea of yet another makes me run away from whodunits .

Rating :3 / 5

Guys , you can definitely pick up The Girl Before  by the same author . You can read the review here