I love psychological thrillers, I love the pacing of these books and trying to guess where the story is going. The Girl on the Train was one of thoseI love psychological thrillers, I love the pacing of these books and trying to guess where the story is going. The Girl on the Train was one of those books - I just could not put it down until I knew what happened, so I read it all day and night until I was done.
Rachel travels the same train route to and from work every day. There is one spot on her route where the train frequently stops for a signal. Rachel watches one family day after day. She has names for them and has invented a fantasy life for “Jess and Jason”. Then one day Rachel sees something that changes her idea of Jess. The next day she see Jess’s picture in the paper - she’s a missing person. Slowly Rachel gets involved in the investigation into the disappearance of Megan (Jess).
First let’s just say that Rachel is the quintessential unreliable narrator. She has a serious drinking problem that involves frequent blackouts. She lies to everyone around her and she thinks she may have been at Megan’s house the night she disappeared. Add into this the fact that Rachel’s ex-husband, whom she still loves, lives two doors away from the missing Megan with his new wife Anna and their daughter. Because of her instability Rachel has a very caustic relationship with Anna, which comes into play when the police begin their investigation.
Told from the point of view of the three women, Rachel, Anna and Megan each one as unreliable as the other the tension just keeps ratcheting up. I had an inkling where the story was heading, but even then I found the ending shocking.
This book garners five stars from me mostly for the entertainment value, although I do think it was very well written. It isn’t great literature but it was a great thriller. ...more
It’s been several years since the end of the Great War and England’s economy is still suffering from the changes wrought by the loss of so many of theIt’s been several years since the end of the Great War and England’s economy is still suffering from the changes wrought by the loss of so many of their young men to death and devastating wounds. Frances Wray and her mother are part of an upper class family, but with the death of the elder Mrs. Wray’s husband and two sons they have fallen on hard times. In an effort to make ends meet they have taken on lodgers, the paying guests of the title. Lillian and Len Barber are of the ‘clerk class’ but with the class distinctions starting to blur they are trying to move up as Francis and and Mrs. Wray struggle not to move downward. At first Frances thinks of her lodgers only in terms of money, but soon a friendship is formed between Frances and Lillian, a friendship that will have devastating consequences for all concerned.
There were many aspects of this book that I enjoyed, in particular the depiction of post war England. However I felt the first part of the book dragged on for too long before it gets to the moment around which the rest of the novel revolves around, a death that impacts everyone. From that point on the story begins to pick up the pace until the final denouement. I also had a very hard time with Frances, she was not a likable character and her constant second guessing herself all the time was tiresome. She was often so wishy washy I just wanted her to get a spine or make a decision, something, anything but moon about.
I did enjoy the exploration of how differently people react to a life changing event, and how they learn to live with their part in that event. The look at the newspaper coverage of certain events was also very interesting. However the end was a bit of a let down - a feeling of “Is that all there is?”, but in retrospect even though the ending isn’t particularly satisfying I can’t see how else it could have ended.
At 568 pages the book was too long and I think if it had been edited down by 200 pages it would have made for a much better read. That said I did like Ms. Water’s writing style, so will probably look up Fingersmith at some point in the future. ...more
Rating is more 3.5 stars. I loved The Dog Stars, but the protagonist in this book was so hard for me to care about and that colored my reaction to theRating is more 3.5 stars. I loved The Dog Stars, but the protagonist in this book was so hard for me to care about and that colored my reaction to the book. The writing is beautiful, and that's what pushes the book to 4 stars but I cannot say I enjoyed reading this the whole time. I really struggled....more
It's more ike a 3.5 rating, better than average but no where near as good as A Time to Kill, even though it is a sequel. The saving grace for this booIt's more ike a 3.5 rating, better than average but no where near as good as A Time to Kill, even though it is a sequel. The saving grace for this book is the ending, which packs a wallop- although I must say I saw it coming....more
Imagine sitting down to dinner with your family turning on the news and learning that your son has just killed the leading Democratic contender for thImagine sitting down to dinner with your family turning on the news and learning that your son has just killed the leading Democratic contender for the presidency. This is the nightmare that becomes Dr. Paul Allen’s life.
Paul Allen is a successful doctor, married to a younger second wife and the father of two young boys. He is also the father of Daniel, his son with his first wife Ellen. Now twenty Daniel has dropped out of college and is estranged from both parents. He’s become a drifter, searching for meaning to his life. At the time of the assassination Daniel has not spoken to anyone in his family for months.
The book is told from two viewpoints, that of Paul who is determined to prove his son’s innocence. He goes from theory to theory trying to understand what happened to his son, believing his son is the scapegoat of a large conspiracy plot. From Daniel’s viewpoint we learn of the months leading up to the shooting and how he has always felt like his father’s “shadow son”.
While I read this book in a few days it wasn’t an easy read. Paul is a decent man; he is a good father to his two young sons and tried hard to be a good father to Danny. As most parents can attest as much as you may love your children there are days when you may not like them. But when push comes to shove you will do anything to save that child, even if it puts everything and everyone in your life at risk. Danny is a confused young man, not unlike many other young men of his age. It was hard to read his painful steps to that fateful day, to not want to reach out to him in some way. As Paul continues his quest for answers you begin to wonder how much this quest is about his son or about easing his guilt about putting his career and new family ahead of that child, the one he left so many years earlier. Throughout it all one question hovers in the back of your mind – what would you do?
This was a very taut story, but a few plot twists were a little illogical and a little judicious editing would have helped. Overall it was a good book, and one I would recommend. ...more
This is the second book in The Hangman’s Daughter series. I read the first book and liked it enough to pick up the second book, unfortunately I don’t This is the second book in The Hangman’s Daughter series. I read the first book and liked it enough to pick up the second book, unfortunately I don’t think I will be picking up the third.
It’s Bavaria 1660. A local priest has been found dead. When it is determined that he has been poisoned Jakob Kuisel, the town hangman, his daughter Magdalena, Simon the town doctor and the priest’s sister set out to discover who killed him. In the course of their investigation the clues begin to point to the Knights Templar and a mysterious treasure.
There were a number of things I didn’t care for in this book. Here are the main issues:
The only character I liked at all was Jakob, he’s smart, principled and a good person. Magdalena and Simon, supposed lovers, are annoying; Magdalena is always whining about Simon and Simon is always whining about having no nice clothes to wear; he’s also slow to figure things out even when they are obvious.
The plot is very reminiscent of The DaVinci Code and not in a good way. Portraying most of the Templar’s as mad men was derivative.
I am not fond of coincidences in mysteries, but I can deal with one maybe two. This book had about a dozen, far too many.
If you are going to write historical fiction it pays to be accurate. People were not able to carry around boxes of matches because they would not exist for another 200 years after the time frame in the book. In addition, and I am not sure if this was a translation problem, but there were a number of modern expressions used. I am reasonably sure that a bunch of drunkards would not be referred to as stoners. When mistakes like that occur they wrench you out of the book and it’s quite frustrating.
Give your readers some credit; you don’t need to repeat things over and over. Mentioning that the hangman and his family were ostracized because they were dirty and nobody would marry the hangman’s daughter or sit with the family did not have to be mentioned at every turn, it just got tiresome.
At 542 pages this book was overlong by at least 200 pages. Editing would have picked up the pace of the book. Those last hundred pages were a real slog.
The book garners three stars only because I really enjoy the character of Jakob and enjoyed all the scenes he was a part of. I hope the next book focuses only on him, that is the only way I will read it. ...more