Book Review or things I do when I am not eating

Lately, I have been having trouble finding time to read. By the time I get home, I am too brain dead from work and studying to try and get my head into a book. Instead it’s mindless Instagram skimming and half reading blog posts. Although I do not have time and energy to read as much, I seem to find ample time and energy to continue purchasing books as though I am still reading at my old pace. When the holidays rolled around this year, I had a stack of thrillers I wanted to get through.

The Farm by Tom Rob Smith

Synopsis: If you refuse to believe me, I will no longer consider you my son.
Daniel believed that his parents were enjoying a peaceful retirement on a remote farm in Sweden. But with a single phone call, everything changes.
Your mother…she’s not well, his father tells him. She’s been imagining things – terrible, terrible things. She’s had a psychotic breakdown, and been committed to a mental hospital.
Before Daniel can board a plane to Sweden, his mother calls: Everything that man has told you is a lie. I’m not mad… I need the police… Meet me at Heathrow.
Caught between his parents, and unsure of who to believe or trust, Daniel becomes his mother’s unwilling judge and jury as she tells him an urgent tale of secrets, of lies, of a crime and a conspiracy that implicates his own father.

It was a bit hard for me to get into this one, but once I got past the first two chapters, I could not put it down. The book is set in rural Sweden and I enjoyed learning a bit about some of the popular folklore and a glimpse into how rural communities live. It motivated me to read a bit more about Nordic folklore around trolls. Random fact: apparently trolls are said to have their own king- Dovregubben. That’s a mouthful.

The idea was really unique and I did not see that ending coming AT ALL. I have many feels about it so if you have read it, I would love to know your thoughts. From a psychiatric and especially psychodynamic perspective, I found the end to be fascinating. It does drag on a little in the middle, but the story captures you enough to push on. I didn’t like how he spent all this time analyzing tiny and irrelevant things in the present conversation between the son and mother. I get that he wanted the reader to understand the state of mind each were in and their previous relationship, but it felt forced. I wanted him to just hurry up and get back to the actual story. If you like mystery and are sick of reading “Gone Girl” copycats, this is a good one.

Missing, Presumed: A Novel by Susie Steiner

Synopsis: Mid-December, and Cambridgeshire is blanketed with snow. Detective Sergeant Manon Bradshaw tries to sleep after yet another soul-destroying Internet date – the low murmuring of her police radio her only solace.

Over the airwaves come reports of a missing woman – door ajar, keys and phone left behind, a spatter of blood on the kitchen floor. Manon knows the first 72 hours are critical: you find her, or you look for a body. And as soon as she sees a picture of Edith Hind, a Cambridge post-graduate from a well-connected family, she knows this case will be big.

Is Edith alive or dead? Was her ‘complex love life’ at the heart of her disappearance, as a senior officer tells the increasingly hungry press? And when a body is found, is it the end or only the beginning?

This was definitely the most disappointing of the bunch. I just could not get into it. I think the biggest issue was that too many different sub stories got opened up and I found the connection at the end poorly executed. I think this is part of a series? Definitely will not be reading any others. It shifted between different characters’ POV and the pace was painfully slow. I was bored and could not bring myself to care about or like any of the characters.

The Hand That Feeds You: A Novel by A.J. Rich

Synopsis:Morgan, thirty, is completing her thesis on victim psychology and newly engaged to Bennett, a man more possessive than those she has dated in the past, but also more chivalrous—and the sex is hot. She returns from class one day to find Bennett brutally mauled to death, and her beloved dogs covered in blood.

When Morgan tries to locate Bennett’s parents to tell them about their son’s hideous death, she discovers that everything he has told her—where he was born, where he lives in Montreal, where he works—was a lie. He is not the man he said he was, and he had several fiancées, all believing the same promises he gave Morgan. And then, one by one, these other women are murdered. Morgan’s research into Bennett has taken on new urgency: in order to stay alive, she must find out how an intelligent woman like herself, who studies predators, becomes a victim.

Devastated and traumatised, Morgan tries to locate Bennett’s parents to tell them about their son’s death. Only then does she begin to discover layer after layer of deceit. Bennett is not the man she thought he was. And she is not the only woman now in immense danger .

This was very promising. It was written by two authors and apparently is based on a relationship their mutual friend had. She passed away and the friends wrote this in her memory.  Although I devoured the book, I found the main character to be so deeply annoying. I get that everyone is flawed, but girl just made one bad decision after the other. Not only are you not a detective, but you have been conned time after time and do not seem to learn from any of your mistakes. I also felt like none of the characters, including Morgan, were well developed and came across as flat. The idea was so interesting and had so much potential, but the execution of it was shoddy and the writing was disappointing.

I have a couple more books to review, but I will save them for another post. If you have any good thrillers to suggest, I would love to hear about them!