tammyWhen Dominic – a stranger in the crowd – first approaches Jess during her Christmas shop, she finds him attractive in a tragic sort of way. Jess is gratified by the interest Dominic shows in her. He says she reminds him of his wife, whom he hasn’t seen in months…

The sinister truth is only revealed once Jess goes back to Dominic’s house, where there is a painting of his wife that doesn’t bear the slightest resemblance to herself. There is also a Christmas tree with twelve opulently wrapped presents underneath. “You can open one every day,” he says, “over the 12 days of Christmas.” This is the moment when Jess realises two things. First, Dominic doesn’t intend to let her leave. Second, he’s quite, quite mad…

There are two things to say at about this book. One: there is very little chance that you will predict how things will turn out, and two, I laughed uproariously at several points with the dark humour contained within its pages. These two factors, along with Cohen’s control of the pace, plotting and characterisation, are reasons enough to immerse you in this criminally entertaining Yuletide read.

As the plight of mousey Jess, incarcerated by the totally debonair, but insane Dominic unfolds, you will be visited by equal feelings of perplexity and shock- there are some wonderfully inventive torture methods- and if you’re a vegetarian (like me) prepare yourself for the visitation of one of Scotland’s prized delicacies, and the consequent effects on your stomach! I loved the slightly ‘out-there’ feel of the first half of the book as the claustrophobic and dangerous tension between Jess and Dominic increases over the twelve days of Christmas, and the effects on her disappearance on Jess’  lacklustre boyfriend and her family. As you progress into the second part of the book, well, there are more than a few clever surprises in store that will have you racing to the final page. I hate the use of the word ‘page-turner’, but this totally is a… page-turner! A fun, quick thriller and a source of delight and horror in equal measure…

(With thanks to Transworld for the ARC)

 

tipDr David Evans, a top neurosurgeon at a hospital in Washington, faces the ultimate dilemma: if his next patient leaves the operating theatre alive, his daughter will die at the hands of a psychopath. He has 55 hours to save her.

But Evans’ patient is no ordinary man; he’s the most important person in the US and what happens on the operating table may well change the course of history…

Closely following in the footsteps of the ‘race-against-time’ thrillers of Linwood Barclay and Harlan Coben comes The Tipping Point, originally published in Spanish as ‘El Paciente’. You know the score- kidnapped child whose fate rests on the actions of distressed parent and so on, and to be honest my tipping point, “every human being has a boundary between the comfort zone of their hopes and fears, and the quicksand of their wishes and needs,” arrived quite early on, despite an intriguing enough opening. The pace of the plot is satisfying enough and the grand puppet-master, the mysterious Mr White, who is pulling all the strings for our hapless neurologist, works well enough as a typical baddie. There is a slightly ludicrous side-story involving the professional rivalry of David and a former colleague that did irritate me somewhat, but the general medical details of the mystery of neuroscience was engaging enough. However, maybe due to my having read several similar books, I did find my concentration wandering afar, and unusually, for a book dubbed as a gripping thriller, it was all too easy to move away from it and be reluctant to return. It’s one of those books that would make a pleasing enough film thriller with a stolid male lead, but generally I was a little underwhelmed. Having said that, however,  if your enthusiasm for the Barclay/Coben niche is still intact, this thriller may tick all the right boxes for you…

(With thanks to Orion for the ARC)

 

 

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