Unrelenting psychological suspense with a wicked twist ...
Mona Ellison is living a dream life. A successful husband, loving son, beautiful home, an amazing group of friends ... you could say that everything is perfect.
Until it isn't.
When her son becomes entangled with the wrong crowd, ditches college plans, and runs away from home for a life of partying, Mona is upset, but boys will be boys, right? He'll be back as soon as his money runs dry. At least that's what she tells her friends.
Only she suspects something different.
Then the police knock on Mona's door. A young girl has turned up dead, and her missing son is the prime suspect.
Determined to reunite with her son and prove his innocence, Mona embarks on a search that puts her on a twisty trail of social media clues and a rollercoaster ride of lies and betrayal until she lands on a truth that changes her perception of everything. Now, the only thing Mona knows is that she can't trust anyone ... not even herself.
Susan Furlong is the author of over ten novels including her most recent title, WHAT THEY DON'T KNOW and SHATTERED JUSTICE, voted by the New York Times as one of the "Top Crime Fiction Novels of the Year." Her next book, THE KILLER'S WIFE, is available for pre-order now.
Susan has worked as a freelance writer, academic writer, ghost writer, translator, high-school language arts teacher, and martial arts instructor. She and her family live in central Illinois. Visit her on Facebook or at www.susanfurlong.com.
Let me preface this review by advising you to read this with the lights on & with enough time to finish it in one sitting. Because Furlong has created a story that will have you questioning everything, looking over your shoulder, jumping at night sounds, and devouring every word. You won’t want to put it down, and the pacing is so well-timed that it feel like the pages have passed in a blink
Psychological-thriller-slash-domestic-suspense is one of my favorite genres when done well. After all, it has to be a pretty amazing novel for me to not miss the romance haha. (#priorities) I especially love it when you’re not sure whether the narrator can be trusted or not because it keeps me all twisted up for the duration of the story, mind racing as I try to figure it all out. What They Don’t Know is one such novel, and I loved every minute of this twisty puzzle.
The characters in this book are deliciously layered and deceptively flawed, and even the most seemingly-insignificant player has an important role in this drama. At the core of the suspense are some underlying questions – namely, who can be trusted and what can be trusted. Mona’s grip on reality fades in and out (or does it?), her friends all have buried secrets (or do they?), her son is missing (is he really?) and her husband is overmedicating her (are we sure?). Furlong has done a masterful job of keeping us twisted and tumbled inside out and upside down from the first word until the book’s exhilarating final chapters.
Bottom Line: What They Don’t Know by Susan Furlong is a delightfully creepy, atmospheric roller coaster ride through small town suburbia, a little bit Desperate Housewives and a little bit Rear Window. Whose reality can be trusted? Who will remain standing when it’s all over? If you’re a fan of Lisa Jewell, Carrie Stuart Parks, or Jaime Jo Wright, you’ll want to read this book! (but please see my reviewer’s note below)
(I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book)
Reviewer’s Note: Readers may want to be aware that there is some mild cursing throughout this novel, as well as a stronger word used a couple of times. Otherwise, I would consider it a clean novel.
This book was a real whodunnit. The twists and turns left your head spinning. A girl is found dead and the road to finding her killer is long and winding. This is a must read novel if you like a Law and Order type of story. This is my first book by this other but certainly not my last.
Mona Ellison’s son is gone from home. She thought it was a teenager’s whim, until it wasn’t. Mia Jones is found dead and her son’s connection with her is public. She decided to clear her son’s name for which she has to find him. In her search for a simple truth, she found many secrets which left her with nobody to trust. Where is her son? Who killed Mia Jones? Who, in her family and friends, is really helping her?
The story is a perfect psychological suspense. Mona is obsessed with her porcelain dolls and often loses herself under the influence of her medication. Her husband Ben is a psychologist himself. The author delves deep into human psychology and what better way than to entangle it with crime. There are many twists in the story but the last one is my favorite.
The English is quite simple and can be read by anyone. However, it might seem verbose unless the genre interests you. The story proceeds quite slowly and I couldn’t read it in one go. It should be read attentively and carefully to enjoy the crux.
What I specifically liked about the book was the character of Mona Ellison. She runs the story and balances herself through every catastrophe. She is one of the most complex mom characters I read. How far a mom would go to clear her son’s name and get him back home is inspiring.
I would recommend this book to anyone interested in psychological suspense and has read this genre earlier too. Would not recommend to anyone who wants a quick and short read.
I received a review copy and I am posting my review voluntarily.
I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
What they don't know by Susan Furlong
This book rocked my world. One twist follows another until the big finale. It's a psychological suspense that begins with a tragic scene and was slowly becoming more intense by the minute. It is divided into four parts, the first is about stating facts, and the other three is a step-by-step revelation of what happened. I am astonished by the way it is written and how the plot changes in a natural yet surprising way. The characters are very few but each one has a crucial part in the storyline. Mona is my favorite by far. Her "broken" state of mind combined with her tragedy makes her the perfect lovable victim. It's so easy to feel her every emotion and connect with her. Not in a million years could I have ever imagined the outcome of this situation.
I am pretty sure that I won't forget this book, it surely made an impact on me. I highly recommend you to read this if you love suburban psychological suspense novels. I will rate it with 5 stars.
From the outside it looks as if Mona Ellison has a life that couldn't be more perfect. A successful husband, a wonderful son, and a group of friends that has always stood beside one another. Once you get a look into her life though you see the cracks. A son who has run away, A husband who works all the time, and friends who aren't quite as loyal as they seem. The cracks come wide open when the police show up at Mona's door asking about a young woman who has been found dead, her son, and a car they use to own. Mona doesn't believe her son could hurt anyone and goes on a journey to prove his innocence. Follow along as each chapter takes you on a ride full of twists and turns that will have you guessing until the end!
As with all of Susan's books I have read, this one did not disappoint! A very good story about a mother's love and what she will go through to help one of her children. But when she starts to question her own thinking, can she continue? I voluntarily reviewed an ARC of this book.
Wow! What They Don’t Know is certainly out of my normal reading genres. I wanted to venture out to a new author (Susan Furlong) and a rarely visited genre, so I chose this book. Now I know why I don’t read a lot in the psychological thriller category. I get creeped out easily! But wow. In a good way.
I love a story that makes me feel something – whether happy, sad, sympathetic, insightful, or even fearful. And seeing the world through Mona’s eyes made me feel a lot. Porcelain dolls have always given me the heebie-jeebies, so that mixed with a murdered woman, a questionable suspect, and the psychological undertones made me sleep with a nightlight.
This is a nervy, unnerving, twisting, intriguing, page-turning tale that grabs you from the first page and doesn’t let loose. I questioned everything and was kept guessing. I enjoyed the author’s unique writing style and hope to revisit her writing again. (Eek. Did I just say that?)
First Line: The predawn light casts a dismal gray through the barn as Detective Lucas Reyes steps inside and squints to gain focus, his gaze landing first on a rusted steel harrow in the corner, its tines like wet dragon teeth, then on the crime scene techs placing numbered markers, snapping photos, documenting and bagging evidence. Genre: Domestic/Psychological Thriller Page Count: 286
Disclosure: #CoverLoverBookReview received a complimentary copy of this book.
Suspense thriller, A real twister. This was totally A enthralling book. You just never know. As they The title says... What they don't know.. I must say perfect title for a perfect story.
A mother who's lost her child...has her porcelain dolls... She has her husband and Well her prescriptions he prescribes because well hes a doctor... And the best friends who live right across the street... Nothing happens in this suburban neighborhood without everyone knowing everything or do they... Even murder... Sometimes it's dark. And you don't always see what you think you're seeing.. Or do you.
Sometimes keeping secrets, Until the very end. Are what makes everyone's life better Or just maybe your own.
Well I must saythis was a very good book. One that will have you guessing till the very last page.. When I thought I had a few things figured out.. Got to the ending and realized I was wrong.. such a good book. Thank you Susan Furlong.
I stayed up way past my bedtime reading this stunning psychological thriller, all while trying to shake off the shivers crawling down my spine. Susan Furlong is a master at her craft, and this superbly written novel is the proof. Just when I thought I’d peeled away all the layers and figured out the ending, along came a final and shocking twist that rocked me to the core. A ten-star read all the way!
Prepare for a rollercoaster ride of events that leave your hair standing on end, nerves on edge, and a deep-seeded sense of angst with this enthralling read from Susan Furlong!
I love a book that crawls under your skin, leaving a tingly, uneasy feeling that you can't take anything at face value. This book fulfills everything I look for in a psychological thriller! The sunshine-y exterior of this suburban neighborhood is quickly tarnished, yet you'll find yourself questioning reactions and motives of every character.
Mona is a complex, in-depth character who I enjoyed climbing inside her mind (even though I was disturbed by the doll obsession). Something is off and not in a good way. Her mental state, along with the medications, helps to twist you into caring, but being cautiously wary.
Furlong's ability to keep you hooked is astounding. The pacing is perfectly in sync, kicking up the uneasy feelings bit by bit. The family dynamics are twisted and if you're not paying close attention, you'll miss small details that turn into big details later. There were several times that I went back to read more slowly to absorb it all. If this were a movie, I wouldn't turn the lights off for this one!
I received a complimentary copy for reviewing purposes. All opinions are my own.
This book is broken in 4 parts and told in 1st person from Mona’s POV with some 3rd person from Detective Reyes POV. This was a great psychological thriller. The author did a fantastic job of making me feel like I was living in the mind of the main character (who is not the most mentally stable). There were a lot of unpredictable twists and turns that I didn’t see coming at all! Especially the very end. I can’t wait to see what else this author comes out with! If you like psychological domestic thrillers, creepy dolls and unreliable narrators then definitely check this book out!
For some, suburban life is a family’s dream. Take, for instance, the Ellisons. Mona has a lovely home; her husband, Ben, a successful child psychologist; their son, Gus; and her book club buddies right across the street. It’s everything she dreamed of. But dreams can be shattered in the blink of an eye.
After an argument with his dad, Gus disappears and Mona spirals into a terrifying emotional state. The book club ladies do all they can to support their friend, but Mona pushes against that, harboring suspicions that something sinister is going on with at least one of them. Ben tries to help with counseling and medication, only to be met with more suspicion. Mona becomes increasingly obsessed with finding Gus. To start, she turns to social media. There she comes across a message from someone calling themselves ICU2. Could it be Gus? Excited, she follows clues from this post --- and, later, others --- to wherever the message leads her. Mona just wants to talk to Gus and see if she can persuade him to come home.
Meanwhile, once again, Ben has pressing business that takes him out of town. Concerned about leaving Mona in this fragile state of mind, he nonetheless hops on a plane. He assures her that it’s only for a couple of days. For Mona, though, a couple of days may be devastating. A couple of days is more than enough time for her to create wild conspiracies, see mysterious visions and hear creepy noises in the night. In Ben’s absence, she even glimpses Gus and tries to reach out. Her mind takes her all sorts of places and conjures up weird scenarios that ultimately lead her into a very dark space.
One day, as Mona is struggling to cope, the doorbell rings. She answers, only to find a policeman on her doorstep. He tells her that a young woman named Mia has been killed. Might Mona know anything about it? Naturally, she claims to have no idea who Mia is, but of course she does. She remembers Gus mentioning Mia. Now more than ever, she must find him.
The shocker comes when we discover what happened to Mia and where Gus has been all this time. And did Mona actually know the young woman, or did she dream it? Is part of this a result of all those medications she’s been taking? Speaking of the meds, where did they come from? Has Ben been trying to muddle her brain, manipulating her into thinking she’s going crazy? All good questions. And all questions that will be answered. Just not until you reach the end. Mona will explain it to you. But she also will tell you that she trusts no one --- including herself. So can you?
Susan Furlong’s WHAT THEY DON���T KNOW begins with a happy scene: a book club of four friends enjoying themselves. From there, the story takes a long, precipitous slide into darkness. Be prepared for a twisty ride. And pay attention because the reality seems to change from chapter to chapter. Don’t miss this highly entertaining read.
Oh, my, goodness. I picked this up to read last night and couldn’t put it down. I can tell you one thing, I was glad the lights were on and I wasn’t reading my Kindle in the dark.
This story grabbed me quickly with lots of questions, creepy dolls, and characters who had me snuggling deeper under the covers. Who were these people? Could any of them be trusted?
As I read a good book, a niggling voice is always whispering from the wings: Will the ending ruin the whole story? But as I read What They Don’t Know, for some reason I felt confident Susan Furlong wouldn’t let me down. And she didn’t.
I’m one of those odd people who don’t usually read a synopsis since I don’t want anything to ruin my discovery of a story as it unfolds, so as this story unfolded I was intrigued and continually making guesses. I couldn’t close the book. So I read on. And on. And on.
Mona Ellison, the protagonist, kept me going like a yo-yo. She had porcelain dolls that she seemed far too attached to. She acted completely paranoid, or was she? And then there is her bad-boy son who had disappeared. Not to mention her husband, who might be absolutely wonderful, or is he just acting the part? So I read on. And on. And on.
My Concerns It was either due to the hour, I finally finished the book at 3 a.m., or there is some truth to my concern, I don’t know since my mind was probably a little fuzzy, but I felt the last third of the book was too repetitive.
Final Thoughts The need-to-know will keep the pages turning. I feel sure this suspenseful book with a twist at the end won’t disappoint. It is a well-written story that you will want to allow lots of time to read.
Whose reality can be trusted in this small-town story of friends?
Since this is the first time I’ve read anything by this author, I’m definitely adding Furlong to my watch list.
My thanks to Seventh Street Books and the author for a gifted copy to review.
Mona Ellison's life is as perfect as the porcelain dolls lined up on her shelves. She has a successful husband, a loving son, a beautiful home, and a supportive group of girlfriends ever ready for their weekly wine night. But when Mona’s son gets entangled with the wrong crowd and runs away from home, her blissful suburban world begins to unravel. She tells her friends that boys will be boys, that he’ll be back as soon as his money runs dry - but deep down she knows there’s something else going on. And when the police show up at Mona’s door with news a young girl has turned up dead in their quiet town, it seems her missing son is the prime suspect. This is the first standalone novel I’ve read of Sue’s and it won’t be the last. The characterisation is sharp and often painful - we get the story from Mona’s first person POV and also the lead detective on the case called Reyes - and it’s very atmospheric, making the most of a limited number of locations to maximum effect. But where the book shines is in its perfectly realised and unrelenting psychological suspense (or horror, if you like) - Mona is under the thrall of her psychologist husband but she’s clearly not herself because dead people can’t leave her messages, can they? As the tension increases and Mona’s world further unravels, the plot twists and turns, each one a surprise but perfectly in keeping with the piece. A cracking novel, I’d very much recommend it.
This is quite an adventure into the mind of a crazy woman. We live in her head and we see reality through her eyes and interpret it through her mind. We become aware of events as she does. The narrative is written in such a way that we know there is a mystery but frequently we only know what Mona thinks about what's happening. Her obsession with dolls is creepy. It is also revealing as she describes herself in childhood as like a broken doll.
This is a good psychological thriller. We get immersed in the character of Mona like nothing I have read before. The plot is a tricky one that requires a great deal of detailed planning and execution and convincing. Now that I know the outcome, I wonder if it all works. The meds, for example. The end is a bit abrupt so we do not get a sufficient denouement, explaining how the details fit together in the end, how our perceptions of reality fit with reality itself. It leaves a haunting feeling after turning the last page.
This is a good novel for readers who like a psychological thriller. Be prepared to live in the mind of a mentally unwell woman.
I received a complimentary egalley of this book through Partners in Crime Book Tours. My comments are an independent and honest review.
I received a copy of this book as a Goodreads giveaway. "What They Don't Know" is a slow-building, multi-layered, and complex story set in Belington, Illinois, that has a great mixture of intrigue paranoia, dark pasts and suspenseful twists and turns to keep the reader engaged until the surprising conclusion. The main character, Mona Ellison, is living a dream life but one little comment on a current news bulletin, leads to catastrophic events. As Mona spirals further from her once cozy reality, I felt, as a reader, that this small-town thriller was developing quite well until a final and shocking twist that rocked me to the core. Susan Furlong's writing style, based on using a narrator that you’re not sure whether can be trusted or not, definitely improves the suspense.
A murder, a psychiatrist and a grieving mom with a twisted sense of reality. Mona's not herself since her son up and left. Her husband, a doctor, is treating her for depression and anxiety by giving her a cocktail of meds. During a book club meeting with her closest girl friends and neighbors the subject of a girl found dead in a local lake is mentioned which gets Mona thinking. When the police come knocking, asking questions about the girl and where her husband is Mona's head spins and so will yours. Mona is the definition of the unreliable narrator. Her character is so richly drawn it causes you to question her every thought and move. Her attachment to her collection of dolls is downright creepy. The writing is easy to get lost in. The twists and turns are numerous and the final one's a doozy. If you're attracted to domestic, psychological suspense novels I highly recommend you pick this one up, I don't think you'll be disappointed. . Thank you to the author, Seventh Street Books and Saichek Publicity for the gifted copy for me to read, review and enjoy.
This book was so interesting. I finished it and thought about it a lot after putting it down. It's a suspense filled story of an unraveling woman, who lives with her narcissistic husband. In the end I wondered who really was crazy in the story. A good read.
Ok, so this book threw me for a loop…but in a good way. Mona Ellison questions everything she thinks and does in this book. It made me question my own sanity at one point. I highly recommend this fast-paced psychological thriller. It’s packed with suspense, lots of twists, and conversations with creepy dolls. This was a crazy and wild ride. I read this book 24hrs. I couldn’t put it down until I knew who was behind all the madness. Can’t wait to read more from Susan Furlong!
I love it when I find an author who can switch gears so easily and effectively. I got hooked on Susan Furlong's work with the Bone Gap Travellers series, then stuck around for the cozy Peach series. But wow, this twisty tale of suburban drama blew me away.
It’s not paranoia if they’re really after you. But are they?
Mona’s husband is a psychologist. He loves her deeply. (Does he?) And her friends? Only the best a woman could ask for. (Are they?) And her porcelain dolls are, well, a good respite from the stresses of life. But -
[Wait, excuse me? Yes. Yes, I said dolls. You got a problem with that? Take it up with Mona.]
- but despite the perception of happiness and privilege that one perhaps might see from the outside, a closer look might reveal a different reality. Mona is on medication that her husband compassionately monitors and prescribes to her. After all, he’s the doctor. And her son Gus has gotten in with the wrong crowd. He left the house one night after a heated argument and he hasn’t come back. She’s sure he will. He’s got to, right?
Then the police come knocking. A girl has been found dead, and Gus has inexplicably shoots to the top of the list of suspects. But Mona knows he’s innocent. He’s got to be, right?
But where is he? How can Mona prove Gus is innocent when she doesn’t even know where he is? And if he’s innocent, who did kill the girl?
Is it someone she knows? Someone she loves? Is she next? Is Gus in danger? And where IS Gus?
In this psychological thriller, a cozy life in the suburbs is turned upside down. Friendship puts up a For Sale sign and Distrust moves in to host the weekend barbecue. Familiarity fosters jealousy, obsession, depression, despair, and rage.
Who can Mona trust? Who do you trust? What if nothing is as it seems? Or maybe the scarier question: what if it is?
This book was extremely good. I couldn’t wait to sneak a page in whenever I had a spare minute. It was like an addiction, with each chapter beckoning me to read just one more at the end of each day. And then one more. Often murder mysteries keep you guessing, but this one took it to a new level. I was just a bystander, observing through words the lives of some make-believe people, but I found myself constantly changing my opinion of each character - right until the very last sentence.
This was the first book I read by Susan Furlong (and, just for the record, though it has no bearing on the story, also the first one I’ve read electronically) but the whirlwind of psychological twists and surreally creepy suspense that kept me reading - and guessing - guaranteed it will certainly not be my last.
Thank you to Lola’s Blog Tours for an advance copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.
If you love domestic thrillers and psychological suspense books, add this one to your TBR. Mona and her three best friends are all neighbors in a Chicago suburb. Mona’s husband is a leading child psychiatrist.
A dead body is found in a park near their suburban home. Mona thinks her son may be involved in some way.
I don’t want to give anything else away but know this one has some great twists and turns. There is the use of social media which makes the read timely. It also has dolls..lots of dolls which ups the creep factor a notch.
This was my first read from this author and I’ll definitely be checking out other books by her.
In What They Don't Know, author Susan Furlong weaves a riveting domestic psychological thriller that will captivate the reader's attention from beginning to end.
The reader follows the story of Mona Ellison, a fifty-two year old married woman who had the perfect life: husband Ben, a successful child psychiatrist, and Gus, their eighteen year-old son. But all isn't what it seems in the Ellison household: Gus has run away and is a person of interest in the murder of seventeen year-old homeless girl named Mia Jones. Mona is determined to find Gus and prove his innocence, but there is a darker side that simmers underneath the surface, and Mona spirals dangerously down the black hole of madness, barely holding on but determined to seek the truth at all costs.
What They Don't Know is a slow-building, multi-layered, gripping, and complex story set in Belington, Illinois, that has a great mixture of intrigue, secrets, deceit, manipulation, paranoia, dark pasts, suspenseful twists and turns, and enough tension and drama that will keep the reader thoroughly engaged and riveted until the surprising conclusion.
You can't help but feel for Mona, and worry if she is unstable and spiraling down the black hole towards a mental breakdown as she searches for Gus and the truth. And if you think that's bad, just add in the creepy obsession with her Madame Alexander doll collection, her paranoia with her husband and friends, and this story will keep you turning the pages and wondering what will eventually happen, because it isn't what it seems!
You can't help but feel Mona's angst as you follow her traumatic story. As you turn the pages of this very harrowing and dark story, the intensity of the story grows until the unexpected surprise ending that will simply leave you stunned and at a loss for words.
Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book from the author / publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for my honest review and participation in a virtual book tour event hosted by Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours.
If ever you wondered what the perfect example of Psychological Suspense will be, look no further. What They Don't Know by Susan Forlong is one of those psychological twisters that will have you wonder about your own sanity and your own relationship with paranoia while reading this book.
How blissful is Suburban life really? Think the couple next door are the picture of the perfect family and your best friends?
What They Don't Know starts with a very mundane activity for the Real House Wives of Suburban life - Book Club. Nothing strange or abnormal about it, but one little comment on a current news bulletin, leads to catastrophic events and at least one of the members to get caught up in a whirlwind of paranoia and bizarre occurrences.
Not that I would call Mona stable from the get-go. It's immediately quite obvious that something is up with this suburban wife and it goes beyond her obsession with her beloved dolls. The relationship with her son Gus, her erratic mannerisms, her strange account of time and happenings, immediately places the reader on high alert. Is Mona a victim of circumstances, or does it go deeper than that?
"We all come with a storybook of sorts, some more horrific than others."
If you are looking for fast-paced, easy read - but not such an easy subject matter, What They Don't Know is a good choice for you. The characters, especially Mona, are well developed and Susan Furlong's writing style is easy on the mind and well presented. Don't expect to go to bed before it's done though!