Why it’s so darn hard to review suspense (but we really want to)

Right. So we know it’s been ages since our last review, but we’ve been busy dealing with some of those personal things that get in the way, like Amanda finding out she’s having a baby and Jody’s baby starting high-school.

Still, we have been reading, maybe even more than we did last year, but we’ve found ourselves in a bit of a sticky situation. We both like reading suspense. Thrillers, crime, whatever you want to call it, although we’d say our preference is more for the gentler, less gory kind. We’re all for the psychological, slow-burn read.

What we don’t like is giving spoilers. So we’re stuck. Do we write a long review and risk giving away too much information? We think not.

Instead, here’s a list of suspense novels we’ve read so far this year in brief:


Behind Closed Doors & The Breakdown by B.A.Paris: From the first page of both these books I was hooked! The storylines are both psychological suspense and both are fast-paced reads, great for a weekend away (if they don’t scare the bejesus out of you). Behind Closed Doors was quite hard to read in places, so keep that in mind. Overall, they’re both lighter suspense though. Both 5 stars.

Three Hours Late, Hush Little Bird and The Secrets in Silence by Nicole Trope: Aussie author Nicole Trope tends to deal with difficult topics and her books can be quite confronting. Hush Little Baby was particularly hard to read as it dealt with child abuse. I felt like I didn’t want to keep reading but at the same time I had to know how it ended. Nicole writes in a similar style to Caroline Overington so if you’re a Caroline Overington fan you’ll love these.

Hidden Hours by Sara Foster: I devoured all Sara’s previous books at the end of last year and she’s getting better and better! I’m sorry I’ve finished her latest book – I didn’t even pace myself! Normally if I know I’m going to enjoy a book I savour it, read it slowly, will it not to end – but not this one! I just had to know how it ended! I want everyone to know about her so you read her books because I think they’re amazing and she’s a bit of a hidden Aussie gem.


The Girl in the Red Coat by Kate Hamer: a fast-paced read told from two perspectives – eight-year-old Carmel who’s been kidnapped by someone she believes to be her estranged grandfather, and her mother Beth, who has to find some way to live day-to-day with a Carmel-shaped hole in her life, all the while believing that she’s out there somewhere. It is not so much a thriller really – you as the reader know where Carmel is, you know what has happened to her. But you want a resolution for all of them. It’s mainly a story about grief, a little girl missing her mother, and a mother missing her little girl. Seeing each other everywhere and never quite connecting. 4 stars.

Storm and Grace by Kathryn Hamer: Australian author Kathryn Harmer has written six books, but this is the first I’ve read. It’s a strange story about male dominance and abuse, saved by the vivid descriptions of freediving and the curious world Heyman creates for her characters. I would love to talk to someone who has read this one! 3 stars.

See What I have Done by Sarah Schmidt: based on the true story of Lizzie Borden, accused of murdering her father and stepmother in 1892 and written by Sarah Schmidt, a new Aussie talent. Eerie and gothic, I read this book quickly over a day or so, finding the cast of characters compelling and oh-so-readable. I was left feeling like more could have been made of it though. 3 stars.

So there you have it. We’re back, and we’ve got other reviews on the boil so look out for them soon!

Hope you are all doing well and reading plenty.

Amanda & Jody


On The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair by Joel Dicker

A few weeks ago I went to Canberra for a conference. While I was there I stopped in at the Paperchain Bookshop in Manuka. Manuka is lovely, full of cafes selling on-trend smashed avocado and extreme milkshakes. Paperchain fits in well among them, and as always, I sought relief in there after a couple days of information overload at the conference.

What is it about bookshops that have such a calming influence? A part of me wonders why I don’t get overwhelmed by all those books I haven’t read yet (so many books, so little time!), but instead the sight of all those possible reads lined up to greet me just makes me sigh with happiness. Hopefully I don’t sound crazy writing this; there must be others who get such joy out of fresh new books, right? Right?

Anyway, I spent a little time browsing and picked up a copy of The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair. I thought about reading this when it was released here in 2014, but I didn’t have such a penchant for slow-burning, psychological crime back then (I’m still not  quite sure why I’ve developed such an interest lately). I know many, many people enjoyed it though and I will quite happily get right on the bandwagon.

The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair is a multi-layered tale about Marcus Goldman, a young author whose fame reached epic heights when he released his first book. He is now trying to write his second, and suffering horribly from that cursed disease, writer’s block. The pressure and expectation is getting to him, to say the least. When his old-friend and mentor Harry Quebert is arrested for the murder of a 15 year old girl who had disappeared more than 30 years earlier, he sets out to Harry’s town – Somerset, New England – in search of answers. He begins to write, recording interviews with the towns-people, retracing the events of the night, and clue by tiny clue, the story slowly unfurls.

The book was certainly entertaining, although it was hard to like Marcus – he seemed so arrogant that much head-shaking and eye-rolling on my part ensued, and Harry Quebert wasn’t much better! I’m also always a little bit amazed when it is so easy for a character to follow the police force around and write about it in real-time. It seems unlikely to me (and a bit of an easy device to keep the plot moving), but I could be wrong. Maybe there are thousands of police out there with wannabe writers hanging onto their every word?

Despite this, Harry Quebert was a great novel. I wanted to know what happened, and I was turning the pages late into the night to find out how all the pieces fit together. It’s an easy, utterly readable book that deserves its success.

Amanda x