Posts Tagged ‘suspense’

Turn of Mind by Alice LaPlante


While we were honeymooning in California, we met up with a friend of my husband’s in San Francisco.  We were talking about books and I mentioned my blog, and he recommended a new book recently released by a friend of his.  I downloaded it during dinner because it sounded so fascinating (but didn’t start reading it at dinner, because of course that would have been rude).

In “Turn of Mind”, Dr. Jennifer White is a retired orthopedic surgeon in her 60′s.  She also has been diagnosed with dementia.  It also just so happens that her best friend, Amanda, was recently found murdered.  Jennifer has her good days and her bad days and often doesn’t even realize that Amanda is gone or who her children are.  Jennifer’s husband passed away a few years ago and Jennifer often mistakes her son for her late husband.  She has a caretaker who she sometimes doesn’t recognize and she has escaped from the house on multiple occasions.

What is even more confusing for Jennifer is the fact that she is being questioned as a suspect in the case of Amanda’s murder.  Amanda was found with several fingers severed… in a manner than only an expert could do.  Does Jennifer remember what happened?  Did she do it?  And if she did, what would possess her to kill her best friend?

The story is told from Jennifer’s perspective, bouncing back and forth between coherent and way far gone into the depths of dementia.  This was one of the most uniquely written books that I have personally ever read.  You are getting a firsthand account of what a person may go through when suffering from dementia and it is both extremely sad (particularly if you know anyone who has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s) and completely enthralling.  It’s a murder mystery where the suspect doesn’t even know if they committed the crime.  There are actually some funny parts to the story but some heartbreaking ones, too.

I found a great interview with Alice LaPlante if you want to learn more about the back story and why she wrote about dementia.  This is her first novel and I really hope to see something else from her in the future.  Trust me, you will not want to put this book down after you pick it up.

Still Life by Joy Fielding

Joy Fielding is one of my favorite authors.  My mom introduced me to her books a few years ago.  I’ve read quite a few of them so far but nothing lately… I hadn’t really heard about any new ones coming out.  I think the last one I read was “Charley’s Web“.  I like that she always writes about a strong female lead character and there’s always a twist in the story.

Still Life” starts with Casey, a successful interior designer around 30-ish, having lunch with her two best friends, Janine and Gail.  Janine is sleek, sophisticated, and sometimes a little abrasive, while Gail is basically the opposite.  Casey breaks that news that she and her husband, Warren, are going to try to get pregnant.  When lunch is done, Casey walks alone back to the parking garage where she parked.  Right as she is approaching her car, she hears tires squealing and a motor revving.

When Casey wakes up, she’s in the hospital and can hear people around her talking but can’t see anything and doesn’t understand what’s going on.  Turns out that Casey was run down by a hit-and-run driver and is in a coma.  She can’t see, move, or speak, but can hear, but of course, no one knows that because she has no way of communicating.

Casey starts to learn tidbits about what happened to her and is hoping they catch who did it.  As she lays in the hospital, helpless, with her husband at her side, she is shocked to hear the REAL story when people talk in front of her (not knowing that she can hear, of course).  Casey recovers from her broken bones and other injuries and is taken home, still in a coma.  She tries to communicate with her younger sister, Drew, who she’s had a rocky relationship with in the past.  For the most part, Casey is still immobile and can’t speak, so she has almost no control over what happens to her and can’t stop some people from finishing out the job they set out to accomplish…

Hope I didn’t give too much away!  I don’t think I’ve disliked any of Joy Fielding’s books, but I really really liked this one.  The entire story was told from Casey’s perspective (although not in the first person) while she was in a coma.  While she can’t interact, she could hear the action going on around her and would slip in and out of sleep and would have vivid dreams/memories about things that happened to her in the past.  This wasn’t the typical thriller/suspense novel and I dug that.  I was pulling for Casey the whole time, wishing she’d wake up and be able to take control again.

Joy Fielding has authored a number of thriller/suspense novels (some of the ones on her Amazon page look to be translated into… German?).  I think I’ve read most of these except two or so.  If you like this genre, I’d recommend picking up a few of her books – I know you’ll love them!

Beautiful Lies by Lisa Unger

I can’t remember why I chose to buy this book.  Maybe it was on sale for the Kindle.  Maybe the summary looked interesting.  Either way, it had been sitting in my queue of unread books on my Kindle for awhile so I decided that it was just the type of book I wanted to read.  I like to mix up my genres and go from chick lit to suspense novels to memoirs and I try not to read two books of the same genre in a row.  Unless two really good chick lit books come out at the same time.

In “Beautiful Lies“, Ridley Jones is a normal 30-something woman in New York City when she gets thrust into the spotlight after saving a little boy from being hit by a car.  Out of the blue, she receives an old photo of a family and a simple note asking “Are you my daughter?”  Ridley is confused but asks her parents about it, who tell her she’s crazy and are offended that she’d even think that she was anything but their daughter.  Right at this same time, Ridley meets her hot new neighbor, Jake, who she is instantly attracted to, although he seems a bit dangerous and Ridley really doesn’t know anything about him.

Ridley confides in Jake about the photo and he immediately offers to help her do some research.  The deeper that Ridley and Jake get into both their research and their relationship, the more troubling things come to the surface about both Ridley’s family and Jake that make her regret not throwing away that picture and never saying a thing.  She starts to realize that the people who she loved and trusted may not be who she thought they were.  But she’s too far in and it’s too late to turn back…

I’m deliberately leaving a lot of details out, so I apologize for the short, vague summary.  I tend to only read the book jacket summary when I first download a book and then leave it sit for awhile before I read it, so I had no clue what this book was awhile when I first started reading it.  I think it helped add to the page-turningness (did I just make up a new word?) of the book.  Some of the reviews online aren’t very positive, but I actually liked this book.  The premise and the whole story is pretty unbelievable in reality, but really, what book isn’t like that?  I was surprised by a few turns that the story took that I didn’t guess beforehand (which I’m usually pretty good at doing).

This was Lisa Unger‘s first novel that came out a few years ago and since then, she’s released a few other books in the same suspense/thriller/mystery/whatever you want to call it genre.  I will be putting her on my list of “must read more of his/her books” authors!

Plain Truth by Jodi Picoult

A new book was released last week from one of my favorite authors, Jodi Picoult.  Unfortunately, the book isn’t available for the Kindle yet so I can’t read it.  I refuse to pay $14-18 in a store when I can (eventually) get it for $9.99 for the Kindle.  I guess I’ll just have to wait.

In the meantime, I thought I’d write about one of my favorite books of hers, “Plain Truth”.

This was the second Jodi Picoult book that I ever read (“My Sister’s Keeper” was the first) and it totally made me fall in love with her writing.  In “Plain Truth”, a teenage Amish girl named Katie is accused of murdering her baby…. which she denies even ever giving birth to.  Ellie is a lawyer who is familiar with the Amish and agrees to take on the case, even though Katie really doesn’t want her help.  Throughout most of the book, you are asking yourself several questions: Was it really her baby?  How did she get pregnant?  How did the baby die?  What really happened in that barn???

Ellie asks an “old friend” of hers, a psychiatrist, for assistance in determining what is truth and what is fiction and as Katie goes to trial, the real story comes out, piece by piece.  During this whole process, Katie is being shunned by her Amish community (including her own father) and you learn a lot about the rules and values of the Amish people.

Bonus – this book has been made into a movie!  I’m sure everyone has heard of or seen the movie version of “My Sister’s Keeper” (except me!  I know I would hate it.), but “Plain Truth” was a Lifetime movie starring the wonderful Mariska Hargitay.  I accidentally ran across it while browsing the TV listings guide a few months back and watched about half of it.  I accidentally fell asleep during the other half – not at the fault of the movie.  I probably had a migraine.  Anyway, I totally love Mariska in “Law & Order: SVU” and was worried that she’d have the same I’ll-kick-your-butt demeanor that she does as Detective Olivia Benson, but she doesn’t.  She has a much softer personality and you could see her being someone that a frightened, confused teenage girl could trust and bond with.

What I like about this book is that I was asking myself questions and trying to put together the pieces of the puzzle throughout the story; it was never just handed to me already put together.  I also enjoy books involving trials and such, as long as they’re about something interesting (that’s probably why I’m a big fan of “Law & Order: SVU”, too).  Quite a few of Jodi Picoult’s books have this same feel, typically the newer ones, but I had a really hard time reading some of her older books.  I’ll write about her other books another time!  Hopefully I’ll be able to write about “House Rules” sometime soon… as soon as it comes out in Kindle format!

2012 Reading Challenge

2012 Reading Challenge
Jaci has read 1 book toward her goal of 35 books.

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