Am I really so very Good? or Bad?

Good Me, Bad Me Book Cover Good Me, Bad Me
Ali Land
psychological, mystery, thriller, literary fiction
Michael Joseph
January 12, 2017
352

ONE OF THE MOST EXTRAORDINARY, CONTROVERSIAL AND EXPLOSIVE DEBUTS OF 2017, Good Me Bad Me is for fans of quality psychological suspense and reading group fiction. 'NEW NAME . NEW FAMILY. SHINY. NEW. ME.' Annie's mother is a serial killer. The only way she can make it stop is to hand her in to the police. But out of sight is not out of mind. As her mother's trial looms, the secrets of her past won't let Annie sleep, even with a new foster family and name - Milly. A fresh start. Now, surely, she can be whoever she wants to be. But Milly's mother is a serial killer. And blood is thicker than water. Good me, bad me. She is, after all, her mother's daughter... Translated into over 20 languages, Good Me Bad Me is a tour de force. In its narrator, Milly Barnes, we have a voice to be reckoned with, and in its author, Ali Land, an extraordinary new talent. Praise for Good Me Bad Me 'Original and compelling - what a sensational debut!' Clare Mackintosh, number one bestselling author of I See You and I Let You Go 'An astoundingly compelling thriller. Beyond tense. You hardly breathe. Best read in ages' Matt Haig 'I absolutely loved it and read it in less than a day. A proper page turner and brilliantly written' Edith Bowman 'Original, intense, and utterly compelling, Good Me Bad Me is not just a terrific thriller but a psychological dive into a young girl's soul' Julia Heaberlin, author of Sunday Times bestseller Black-Eyed Susans 'A triumph of tension. I doubt I'll ever sleep again' Cathy Rentzenbrink, author of Richard & Judy Bookclub bestseller The Last Act of Love 'Intelligent and disturbing, Good Me Bad Me had me hooked from the first page' Debbie Howells, author of Richard & Judy book club bestseller The Bones of You

 

A novel that chills.

The mind of ‘Milly’ is cunning – as she has been taught to be by her mother. She shares what she thinks is needed and required, and that which will progress her objectives.  She seems to have 2 main objectives, one being to ensure that her mother goes to prison for as long as possible and thus she will not have to return to the house of horrors that she was brought up in; and 2 to remain with Mike as a foster child, whatever that takes.

Milly manipulates the situation and we learn just how far she will go as the story develops. She has a Good personality and a Bad personality and she is aware of each and feels no shame when she uses her Bad personality to undertake a behaviour that will bring her closer to one of her goals. She is aware of what is morally correct to do in situations but often behaves differently, justifying her behaviour from her own goals.

In the book her foster sister has a manipulative personality and she is unaware of just how far Milly understands her and can counteract her when necessary. Her mother did teach her a great many ways to manipulate others.

Yet Milly is lonely.  Her life with her mother did not permit her to have friends. She would like to be accepted as who she really is but the very heavy publicity about her mother, who is now on trial due to Milly, prevents this. Only a very few are permitted to know who she really is as she is the prime witness against her mother.

 The story is told by Milly so we see her thinking and rationales as the trial of her mother develops and as her relationship with her foster family is impacted by the trial.

You feel very sorry for Milly. Her mother twisted and warped her through abuse and yet her awareness of good and bad means that in the end, when the full extent of her behaviour is revealed, you realise that she is probably not fit to live in normal society.

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The Unwelcome Gift

Marriage Pact Book Cover Marriage Pact
Michelle Richmond
psychological, mystery, suspense, contemporary
Michael Joseph
July 27, 2017
432

Alice and Jake are the perfect couple - sort of. On the day of their wedding, a stranger offers them the chance to join a mysterious group, known as The Pact. With its promise of a lifelong marriage of happiness, Jake and Alice are persuaded to accept. The goals of the society seem sound - and the couple are initially seduced by the glamorous parties, sense of community and like-minded couples. But then one of them breaks the rules. Alice and Jake are about to discover that, like marriage, The Pact is for life. The members will go to any lengths to ensure nobody leaves - until the marriage of their dreams becomes their worst nightmare. Under The Pact, 'Til death do us part' has a whole new meaning. . .

A story that gets darker as it develops.

So here is the fairly typical West Coast USA couple. Well educated, good careers with some previous experimentation, living together in a bijou house in a nice neighbourhood. Marriage seems the next and logical step.

And a friend introduces them to this ‘organisation’ that started in Ireland, which aims to help people have better marriages and fewer divorces.

Strangely, to join the organisation you have sign a contract, and then are given a very large book of rules of behaviour. The rules are very precise and specify minutiae – as an example, if your spouse rings you, you must answer within 2 rings. Now you may ask, what happens if you answer in 3 rings? And how would the organisation know? Which is where the story starts getting creepy. Apparently they do know. And you will be ‘reported’ and ‘dealt’ with.

The story is told by Jake, who is a counsellor and therapist, and it is his marriage to Alice that is examined in the book.

If you are married, or about to be married, there are definitely some elements of this story that you might want to think about. How often do you talk to your partner properly? Not just about day to day chores and work. How often do you surprise them with a gift? For no reason other than that you want to?

The statistics about divorce are horrendous and also those about how often marriage counselling fails. So the idea of (self) help and how to make a successful marriage appeals. But, I suspect, that what works for some couples, works for them alone, just because they are who they are, and not someone else. So don’t copy their behaviour!

Which is why I don’t think that the concept of the Pact was useful as an idea from the cult leaders. Who clearly had the wrong sort of psychological training…..

I really like the story and got more and more horrified as the story went on. And the final chapter was completely unexpected.

 

 

 

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Don’t go to exotic islands on honeymoon!

The Honeymoon Book Cover The Honeymoon
Tina Seskis
psychological, mystery, thriller, literary fiction
Michael Joseph
March 23, 2017
496

"For as long as she can remember, Jemma has been planning the perfect honeymoon. A fortnight's retreat to a five-star resort in the Maldives, complete with luxury villas, personal butlers and absolute privacy. It should be paradise, but it's turned into a nightmare. Because the man Jemma married a week ago has just disappeared from the island without a trace. And now her perfect new life is vanishing just as quickly before her eyes. After everything they've been through together, how can this be happening? Is there anyone on the island that Jemma can trust? And above all - where has her husband gone?"

This starts as an almost traditional and well-worn story of a honeymoon couple on an exotic island where one goes missing.

So we think we know where the story is going. There are 2 scenarios: 1. He has deliberately left in the ‘missing drowned’ and walked away staged death; or 2. She has killed him and his body has got washed away and may never be found – shark eaten etc etc.

Except. That as the story develops it seems that what we thought we first knew, was not correct at all. The various characters tell lies – sometimes of omission and sometimes deliberately.

And whilst I’m definitely not going give you a spoiler, I am going to say this, you will never, ever, guess what really happened!

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What is Truth?

Everything But the Truth Book Cover Everything But the Truth
Gillian McAllister
thriller, psychological, women sleuths, romantic suspense
Michael Joseph
March 9, 2017
432

Everything But the Truth is a brilliantly compelling thriller about how much - or how little - we can trust the ones we love. 'Packed with twists and turns that will make it almost impossible to put down!' Hello! 'Twisty and emotionally charged. Breathlessly brilliant' Heat It all started with the email. Rachel didn't even mean to look. She loves Jack and she's pregnant with their child. She trusts him. But now she's seen it, she can't undo that moment. Or the chain of events it has set in motion. Why has Jack been lying about his past? Just what exactly is he hiding? And doesn't Rachel have a right to know the truth at any cost? 'A gripping, compelling page turner that kept me up half the night' Liz Nugent, bestselling author of Lying in Wait 'You won't be able to put it down!' Hollie Overton, bestselling author of Baby Doll 'Perfection. Intriguing and compelling. An exceptional debut' Clare Mackintosh, bestselling author of I See You 'A beautifully written domestic noir full of secrets and lies' Claire Douglas, bestselling author of Local Girl Missing

 

When we are witness in a trial we swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

But what is the truth? You can only see the truth through your own eyes and own mental interpretation which is biased by your own previous experiences and your psychological make-up.

So there is the white lie, the grey lie and the very black lie. And of course, the lie you tell to protect others such as when you are asked ‘How are you?’ and although obviously ill, you claim to be fine. And then there is the economical truth too. The partial truth.

So there are many different ways in which we can express the natural inclination of the human being, from childhood onwards, to protect ourselves when the ‘whole’ truth may result in unwelcome consequences.

Trust, according to the Norse from whom we draw the word, is a contract in which we agree to future behaviour, which must be fulfilled in its entirety for that trust to be established. Just one single deviation from that expectation and the contract is broken.

So this book and the story within it, makes us reflect on truth and what it is and how it is not a clear cut but rather a shaded contract of behaviour and expectations.

 

 

 

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The Butterfly flaps

Butterfly On the Storm
Heartland Trilogy
Walter Lucius
psychological, mystery, thriller, political
Michael Joseph
(30 Mar. 2017)

Haunted by a past you can never escape . . .

A young boy is found in woods outside Amsterdam. Broken and bloody, he appears to be the victim of a brutal hit-and-run. When the police at the hospital ask what happened, the one word the boy repeats they don't understand.

But journalist Farah Hafez does. She left Afghanistan as a child and she recognizes her native tongue. As the boy is taken into surgery she finds herself visiting the scene of the crime, seeking to discover how a little Afghan boy came to be so far from home.

Instead, she comes across a burnt-out car with two bodies inside - a sinister clue to something far darker than a simple road accident.

It is just the start of a journey that will lead her from one twisted strand to another in an intricate web of crime and corruption that stretches across Europe and deep into a past that Farah had sought to escape - a past that nearly killed her.

A young injured child is found on the road.

In the middle of a forest.

At night.

With no cars nearby, and only a phone call to say she was there- the police are alerted.

Set in Amsterdam and its immediate surroundings, we find hat police are very much the same wherever they are located within Europe. The only difference being that the laws that govern how they operate vary.

So this story has as its central characters: a young journalist, originally from Afghanistan but after escaping the Russian invasion was brought up in Amsterdam; two policemen, 1 fat and ill-tempered, Moroccan, and eating all the ‘wrong’ food according to his Italian partner, who is smooth and careful of his health; and a young child.

The policemen have their own personal lives to sort out as they try to untangle the mystery of the child.

Now note that the author is  from Holland and that this is a translation as it was originally published in Holland in 2013.

So for me, the translation sometimes got in the way and the writing style was often irritating. I found that the way the characters suddenly started reminiscing without relating apparently to the current context put me off. Such as, why did the Moroccan think about the bus accident that killed his brother when they were discussing theories about the burnt bodies in the car? Was it the burning vehicle that triggered it? If so, it wasn’t clear. Am I, the reader, supposed to feel more sympathetic towards him as a character? If so, it failed, as he really irritated me.

At times these digressions spoilt he flow and pace for me, but thankfully they were not enough to stop me continuing to read. It was for me an uncomfortable style of writing that is not uncommon amongst Europeans especially, but not exclusively, Nordic writers.

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