[ARC] The Betrayals by Fiona Neill

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Rosie and Nick had a happy family: she, an oncologist, he expert in the mechanics of memory, a daughter and a son.

The novel starts with the happiness already shattered since some years, precisely since the time Nick left his family to go living with Lisa, Rosie’s ex best friend, who left herself her family.

The trigger element of the story is a letter to Rosie, where Lisa shares the fact she is dying of cancer and wants a last meeting with her friend to tell her a last secret.

The novel is built on four points of view (of Rosie, Nick, Daisy e Max), and soon we understand that their family is quite a dysfunctional one, and each of them has some secrets she/he does not want to share. We understand also that Rosie is very attached to her work – maybe too much – and that she is still sentimentally recovering from Nick’s leaving; Max is a brilliant student but very insecure, always wanting the approval of his new girlfriend. The most interesting PoVs are Days’s and Nick’s, both unreliable narrators, the former because of her OCD, the latter for his choice of omitting details. The theme of time that modifies the way we recollect past events is one of the most relevant in the novel, ironically also because of Nick’s professional activity.

The story of the family is nicely built thanks to the four PoVs and a jump to the past, to the summer when the changes begun. In the end I liked The Betrayals, it is an engaging and well-built novel.

Thanks to the publisher for providing me the copy necessary to write this review.


* The Betrayals by Fiona Neill ★★★★☆

*I read this book in english

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In the Woods (Dublin Murder Squad #1) by Tana French

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1984, Summer in Knocknaree, Ireland. Three children go in the woods near home to play and they do not come back. The searches begin the next day, and only one child is found near a tree with blood on his clothes, Adam Robert Ryan, who does not remember anything happened in the woods.

Now, Knocknaree. In an archaeological site near the remaining area of the woods a girl is found dead. The murder investigation begin: the leader of the investigation for the Dublin Murder Squad are Cassie and Rob, who is the same child survived during 1984.

The story is told directly by Rob, who tells the story as he remembers it; this investigation is quite hard for him also because he is forced to walk in once familiar places. The 1984 case is taken into account again to check possible common points (maybe it’s a killer who wasn’t active for years).

The strength of the novel is the choice of such a subjective narrator: as readers we have access to a single point of view concerning the case and the people involved in Rob’s life. And in the end the most important question is: how much faith we give the narrator? How reliable is Rob in telling the story?

Once reached the ending I was not sure whether I liked it or not, but thinking about it I ended up agreeing with the author, since her choice makes the book more realistic. I suggest it for the thrillers lovers.


* In the Woods by Tana French ★★★★☆

*I read this book in english

[ARC] His Bloody Project by Graeme Macrae Burnet

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The story happens in Scotland in 1869, in particular in the little farming community of Culduie, the protagonist Roderick Macrae belongs to. He is seventeen and he admits to have murdered three people.

The author of the novel states in the beginning to have retraced all the documents related to the Macrae case, and he collects them in the book His Bloody Project, so we have medical opinions, the report written by Macrae himself in prison and the trial accounts.

The reader faces a series of testimonies about Roderick behaviour that contradict themselves: for some people he was brilliant, for other he was a fool, so he was either defined good or extremely evil. In the transcriptions rivalries between the victim and culprit families arise: one of the three dead is Lachlan Mackenzie, deputy of the village for the land owner, and from Roderick tale he was persecuting the Macrae family.

The purpose of Roderick’s lawyer is to have a verdict of insanity, and so to spare his client from the death penalty. Roderick understood his actions? And which reason brought him in killing three people?

The pro of this novel is that the reader is in the same situation of the trial’s jury: he/she has documents and testimonies and about them he/she can decide Macrae’s fate. And like in a jury the reader has to evaluate what to believe, since the documents are realistic, but the narrator could be unreliable.

Thanks to the publisher for providing me the copy necessary to write this review.

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* His Bloody Project by Graeme Macrae Burnet ★★★★☆

*I read this book in English

We have always lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson

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We always lived in the Castle is a strange book, but it for sure provides various hint to start a discussion (like in the YA group in Goodreads).

We choose it for the unreliable narrator theme, but in the end here we have more than a single unreliable one, and among them the writer herself.

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[ARC] The Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma

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In The walls around us two voices tell their story: on one side Violet, young ballerina who has almost reached New York and fame, on the other Amber, convict since three years in the Juvenile Correction Institute Aurora Hills. They have in common only one thing: Ori, also a ballerina and also a convict for a bloody murder.

While Violet tells about her future and reflects on what happened to Ori, her best friend till the tragic day, Amber speaks about her past (a violent stepfather, a mother who did not want to see) and her life in Amber Hills, the relation with the other girls there and the memory of the one magic August night when the lock bust open without Conviction Officers around.

Going on reading we understand that much we are told is not quite the truth, and the novel is a good example of unreliable narrator, because, among the one who lies, who want the past to have taken a different course, who forgot or chose to forget, the true course of events is clear only at the end. The characters are well-developed and their confusion – true or faked – is believable and it is one of the forces (in addition to the style that I liked) that makes this story interesting.

It’s a tale of interrupted lives, who are searching their past for the impulse that brought them to the extreme action and to the conviction, of girls who want to obtain the justice denied in the courts that posed these walls around them.

Thanks to the publisher for providing me the copy necessary to write this review.


* The Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma ★★☆☆

*I read this book in english

Viviane by Julia Deck

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Viviane is a business woman in a company, and she is also the mother of a lovely baby girl. Despite this, she is depressed and insecure, so much to need the session with a psychologist: the separation with her husband is the last straw that forces Viviane to an emergency session with the doctor.

His patronizing way, the superficiality of the session will bring Viviane to an extreme violent act and then to run away from the murder scene.

This is how begins this short but deep novel where we follow the action and thoughts of a confuse woman who, to divert police suspicions, decides to encounter the other people potentially involved with the doctor’s death: his wife, his lover, a patient with violent issues who will share with Viviane their lives without hesitation. Left aside the murder, Viviane must manage also the communication with her ex-husband, now wanting to meet his child.

The reader is slowly engulfed by Viviane confusion, till the very end that will provide new insights on the story.

Julia Deck was able – despite the novel length – to create perfectly believable character that are accurately described, above all Viviane, more and more dragged by the events and her nervous issue, but also the other characters, the ones Viviane choses to meet and who share with her their story.


* Viviane by Julia Deck ★★★★☆

*I read this book in Italian