‘The Heights’ I’ll Go to Review Louise Candlish’s Latest Thriller

He thinks he’s safe up there.

But can he ever be safe from you?

Ellen Saint, by pure chance, sees a man on top of The Heights, a fancy, exclusive apartment building in London. He’s subtly different, older now, but she’d recognise him anywhere. Which doesn’t make sense. Because he’s been dead for over two years. She knows this because she’s the one who had him killed.

The Heights by Louise Candlish is a 2021 psychological thriller about an unlikeable protagonist—aren’t they all?—called Ellen Saint who devolves into madness and hate after the death of her son Lucas Gordon at the hands of the aforementioned man at The Heights, Kieran Watts. Most of the story is told through the lens of Ellen, in excerpts of her book ‘Saint or Sinner’, but interspersed in the middle and at the end with third-person narrative of her ex-partner Vic Gordon, and in parts a review by Sunday Times Magazine journalist Michaela Ross.

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The Astounding, Thrilling, Amazing Review of The Woman in the Window

womaninwindowDr. Anna Fox is your typical 2010s psychological thriller protagonist. Much like the women before her—Amy Dunne in Gone Girl and Rachel Watson in The Girl on the Train—Fox is an unreliable narrator; an alcoholic like Watson before her, and in an unhappy marriage like Dunne. Separated from her husband Ed and daughter Olivia, Anna is an agoraphobic who gets her kicks out of recording her neighbours with her Nikon camera and watching classic movies. However, one day, Anna sees more than she bargained for when she’s spying on her newest neighbours, the Russells, and her world is suddenly turned upside down. A.J. Finn’s The Woman in the Window is a book that has a lot of hype—Stephen King and his son, as well as Gillian Flynn, have been raving about it, and it’s due for the Hollywood treatment soon—but does it live up to it all? Put, simply: Nope.

The Woman in the Window is the first book by Daniel Mallory under his gender-neutral pseudonym A.J. Finn, and was published in January of this year. Finn sees the book as an homage to Hitchcockian thrillers, with the most obvious being Rear Window, however there is also a film noir of the same name as this book from 1944. However, you don’t have to enjoy the works of Alfred Hitchcock, or even classic movies, to be able to enjoy this one, though some of the references may be lost on you. This doesn’t seem to bother the people at my local library, since there was a forty-strong wait list for the book when I got my hands on it. Due to my procrastinating reading Devils Attic by Vicki Adrian, I had less than a week to read this book, but somehow managed to read all 430-odd pages in two days. A feat, I tell you, but it left me completely exhausted!

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‘The Child’-ish Book Review

A workman discovers the remains of a baby while digging up a building site in Woolwich in England, and it’s reported as a two sentence piece in a newspaper more focused on the London Olympics, the Royals and potential terrorists. Most would have ignored it. Not Kate Waters. Kate, a plucky older journalist in an era of young reporters and online news, discovers the story and files it away for later use. She decides to discover the truth behind the baby, but gets more than she bargained for when she learns more about the residents of Howard Street. Combine this with Angela Irving, who lost her baby back in 1970 and is still struggling to cope, and Emma Simmonds, who’s also struggling to deal with the news as it brings back long-hidden memories, and you’ve got an intriguing, almost-400 page read.

The Child is Fiona Barton’s second novel, and I went to the library and had them order it in, as I loved Barton’s previous book, The Widow, so much. Unfortunately, I’m a massive procrastinator, and the book was a couple days late, when I realised I really should pick it up and read it, since I’ve got so many other books to read (Final Girls, Crash Override, Quiet, Day of the Triffids, the rest of Adrian Mole, etc). Lucky for me, it’s AMAZINGLY QUICK to read. I mean, I read 20 pages over a month, since the book started quite slowly. I then finished the remaining 350 or so pages in two days. Yes, two. Despite this knowledge, I almost DNF’d this second book, because the start wasn’t interesting at all. It just felt like a rehash of The Widow, except a dead baby this time instead of a missing child. I decided, since the book was late back to the library, I should quickly read more of it to see if it was worth it, and yes, the book does get better.

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‘The Girl Before’ and The Book Review After

In December, when I was reviewing The One Who Got Away by Caroline Overington, I told myself “No more! No more reading Gone Girl knock-offs!” But, you know what, I was lying to myself. Because I’m going to read The Child by Fiona Barton and Paula Hawkins’s second book later this year. However, for The Girl Before, this month’s book, I wasn’t interested in it for a long while. You can blame my mother. My mum likes tagging me in stuff on Facebook, and she kept tagging me in stuff about this book, and telling me about it whenever she could. In the end, I caved in and requested it from the library. Last week, I discovered I only had two weeks to read it because of the monstrous queue at the library waiting to get their hands on this Girl on the Train-meets-Fifty Shades of Grey mix-up by the pseudonymous JP Delaney. Much like the other Gone Girl knock-offs, this book was a breeze to read, and I finished it in roughly a week, so lo and behold my review:

The Girl Before by JP Delaney was released in January of this year, and according to the book’s About the Author, there’s already a movie directed by Ron Howard in the works. The quick synopsis is this: two women, one in the present (Jane Cavendish) and the girl before (Emma Matthews), tell of their life in One Folgate Street, a cheap rental property with unique rules created by a perfectionist landlord they must abide by. Both women move into the house after dealing with their own traumas (Jane’s still reeling with the loss of Isabel, her stillborn baby, and Emma had a traumatic break-in in her last home) when they both embark on a relationship with the standoffish, perfectionist minimalist that is their landlord Edward Monkford. When Jane discovers that Emma, The Girl Before, died in One Folgate Street, she sets out to find out who killed Emma, which leads to her wondering if she can even trust the ultra-minimalist house at all?

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A Loving Book or a Heartless Review… You’d Know, Wouldn’t You?

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This novel is actually a genuine page-turner.

Back in July last year, I wrote a blog post about foreshadowing, which including the noteworthy examples of Harry Potter (novels and movies), video game Life is Strange, and the captivating psychological thriller The Girl on The Train. Written after the success of Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl, Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins was a fast paced, genuinely interesting novel about the divorced, alcoholic Rachel and her connection to the occupants of a house she passes everyday on the train to London. I read it relatively quickly—as quickly as a slow reader like myself can—and it was one of my best reads of 2015.

What does this have to do with my blog post, dear readers? Well, I’ve just finished reading a book that is what you’d likely call the 2016 equivalent to Girl on the Train. The Widow by Fiona Barton, released earlier this year, was a fascinating, gripping read that I finished on-and-off in just under two weeks. For someone who took months to finish On Writing and gave up on Lolita a mere hundred and fifty pages in, I find this an amazing feat. The Widow is written from the point of view of multiple characters; mainly main character Jean Taylor (the titular widow), detective Bob Sparkes, journalist Kate Waters, the missing girl’s mother Dawn Elliott, and a myriad of others. Jean’s story is written in first person present tense, and the rest are in third person, and past or present depending on whether it’s the past (2006–the lead up to the modern day) or present (2010, the modern day). As stated in the blurb, average housewife and sometime hairdresser Jean Taylor’s life is rocked when her husband is accused of the disappearance of the young, sprightly girl that is Bella Elliott. The newspapers set out to ruin the lives of Jean and her husband Glen, despite no sign of young Bella’s body or whereabouts. But everything changes with Glen’s recent death. Is Jean telling the media and the police everything she knows about Glen, and will she reveal the truth?

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This Review of ‘The Executioners’ is Tremendous

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Who is The Executioner? Is it Sam? Is it Max? Is it you, the reader?

Back in high school, I used to watch a lot of late night weekend television. One of these particular channels aired classic movies, and since I’d never heard of some, I was mildly intrigued. There was the original King Kong with its theatrical acting and ridiculous looking Kong; The Sheik and its devilishly handsome Rudolph Valentino and his creepy Christian Grey-esque antics; and then there was the one that stuck with me the most—Cape Fear. Most people only know of the apparently terrible ’90s remake, but I was fascinated by the 1962 incarnation for its interaction between the main character Sam Bowden (Gregory Peck) and arch-nemesis rapist Max Cady, who was trying to tear apart his life and that of his wife and daughter. Couple Cape Fear with the more recent Red Eye, directed by Wes Craven, and my love of psychological thrillers was born. Recently, I looked more into the movie, and was surprised to see it was loosely based on a book: The Executioners by John D. MacDonald.

The Executioners, available here, is the 1957 psychological thriller by John D. MacDonald. The basic premise is this: 14 years ago, while in the army and stationed in Australia, Sam Bowden caught antagonist Max Cady in the middle of the rape of a 14 year old girl, and then exerted his influence as a lawyer to keep Cady behind bars for a lot longer than usual for the crime. Unbeknownst to Sam, Cady spent his 14 years in prison with a vengeful rage, and vows the destroy Sam’s life once he gets out of prison. Once out of prison, he tracks down Sam back in the U.S.  and discovers he now has a wife, Carol, and three children including eldest Nancy, who is the same age as Cady’s last victim. With this knowledge, as well as his strength and prowess, Cady vows to do everything to destroy the life of naive lawyer Sam Bowden.

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