Happy Tuesday! Once again, I have two books to share today. One held me riveted the other was…eh.
I have mixed emotions about the second book because it had plenty of good points. I’ll let you judge from today’s reviews. I will mention that Natalie Barelli is an author I discovered last year, and she immediately went on my auto buy list. I’ve scooped up several of her back issues as well. If you enjoy psychological suspense, she always delivers a good tale. Sometimes the circumstances require a suspension of belief, but for sheer entertainment value, they always deliver.
She’s a liar. She’s a stalker. She’s in your house.
When Claire sees Hannah Wilson at an exclusive Manhattan hair salon, it’s like a knife slicing through barely healed scars. It may have been ten years since Claire last saw Hannah, but she has thought of her every day, and not in a good way. So Claire does what anyone would do in her position—she stalks her.
Hannah is now Mrs. Carter, living the charmed life that should have been Claire’s. It’s the life Claire used to have, before Hannah came along and took it all away from her.
Back then, Claire was a happy teenager with porcelain skin and long, wavy blond hair. Now she’s an overweight, lazy drunk with hair the color of compost and skin to match. Which is why when Hannah advertises for a housekeeper, Claire is confident she can apply and not be recognized. And since she has time on her hands, revenge on her mind, and a talent for acting…
Because what better way to seek retribution—and redress—than from within the beautiful Mrs. Hannah Carter’s own home?
Except that it’s not just Claire who has secrets. Everyone in that house seems to have something to hide.
And now, there’s no way out.
This is a quick read and an easy one, but highly entertaining. Despite how messed up the main character is, you get sucked into her life. Claire had it all when she was young. A happy home life, rich parents, tennis lessons, pony rides. Then Hannah waltzed into her world as a nanny for her younger brother and her life took a nosedive. I’d say more about why, but that’s part of the story, and I don’t want to spoil anything.
Fast forward ten years and Hannah is now married to a wealthy doctor, living the high life in a beautiful house. She’s in need of a housekeeper who will also help care for her infant daughter from time to time. Through a series of pretty “out there” circumstances, Claire changes her appearance, assumes another identity, and lands the job. She’s there to upend Hannah’s life and exact revenge.
This is a juicy read which alternates for the reader between disliking Claire and cheering for her. Written in first person POV, there is plenty of snarky asides sprinkled throughout, as well as a steady build of suspense and tension. There aren’t many characters to keep track of, but all play an integral part in the story, and the ending is well worth the ride. This is my second book by Natalie Barelli, but I like her work so much, I’ve already picked up another two for my Kindle.
Ten years ago, Hannah’s husband was knifed in their bed. Hannah was questioned but was unable to recall anything about the night of Graham’s death. Someone else was charged with his murder and sentenced to life in prison. Now, ten years later, Hannah is living with her boyfriend, Dan, and her teenage daughter, Evie. A true crime podcast with a reputation for overturning wrongful convictions begins to pick Hannah’s story apart, determined to get to the bottom of what really happened ten years ago.
Talk about a compelling plot! The premise of this book immediately intrigued me. Hannah’s life begins to unravel when she’s judged in the court of public opinion, one sensationalized podcast episode at a time. This is a slow-burn suspense read with several elements that play exceptionally well, including Hannah’s spotty memory. Did she or didn’t she? Even she doesn’t know if she’s a killer. That keeps the reader wondering, too—right up until the end.
Another thread involves the ruins of a Gothic insane asylum where Hannah’s grandmother was incarcerated for killing her husband and daughter. Hannah is drawn there when she learns someone is interested in renovating the property. The scenes in the shell of the old building are some of my favorite, played heavily for atmosphere.
There are numerous snaking plot lines that weave together at the end. Kudos to the author for juggling so many intricate puzzle pieces. I thought the ending was brilliant.
What I didn’t like, and found implausible, is that Hannah—a professional psychiatrist—would be such a doormat for her husband and her ex-boss. Her behavior, especially in the past, didn’t ring true. Though most of the book takes place in the present, there are numerous scenes where the reader is treated to Hannah’s married life with Graham. The more I was exposed to her past, the more annoyed I became. In the present, some of the actions of the police left me scratching my head. I had some other issues as well, but it’s hard to say more without giving away spoilers.
The overall tone of the book is dark. I honestly found it depressing. This is one novel that will come down to a matter of personal taste. If you like dark, twisty reads, this is well-written and well-plotted though it does moves slowly. For me, it didn’t quite work.
I can’t believe it’s the last Tuesday of April already, and somehow I’m still not caught up on sharing my book reviews. I’d love to hear your thoughts on The House Keeper and Possession. Intrigued or pass? As always, happy reading!