Book Review Tuesday: The Family Across the Street by Nicole Trope @nicoletrope, Missing Molly by Natalie Barelli #suspense

Warm and cozy window seat with cushions and a opened book, light through vintage shutters, rustic style home decor. Small cat on window seat, along with coffee cup by pillow, Words Book Review Tuesday superimposed over image

Hello! I am back from vacation and excited to dive into August. I had a wonderful time relaxing with plenty of pool days and also a fantastic time out with hubby and friends. Oh, and did I mention shopping, my favorite sport? I also had the luxury of enjoying several books, two of which I’m delighted to share today. Both of these fall into the suspense genre, and both kept me intrigued for different reasons. Take a look and see what you think. . .


Sometimes, the most perfect families are hiding the most terrible secrets. How well do you know the people next door…?

Everybody wants to live on Hogarth Street, the pretty, tree-lined avenue with its white houses. The new family, The Wests, are a perfect fit. Katherine and Josh seem so in love and their gorgeous five-year-old twins race screeching around their beautiful emerald-green lawn.

But soon people start to notice: why don’t they join backyard barbecues? Why do they brush away offers to babysit? Why, when you knock at the door, do they shut you out, rather than inviting you in?

Every family has secrets, and on the hottest day of the year, the truth is about to come out. As a tragedy unfolds behind closed doors, the dawn chorus is split by the wail of sirens. And one by one the families who tried so hard to welcome the Wests begin to realise: Hogarth Street will never be the same again.

A completely gripping, twist-packed psychological thriller, perfect for fans of Liane Moriarty, Sally Hepworth and Lisa Jew

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.


Thank you Bookouture and NetGalley for my ARC!

This book isn’t at all what I anticipated from the blurb. I was expecting a gradual unraveling of secrets related to a family on a suburban street. Instead, I got a heinous situation pretty much right off the bat, and one that escalated as the book progressed. The entire storyline plays out during the course of a single day, the scenes conjuring a heightened sense of claustrophobia along with escalating danger.

There are a number of characters who surprise you. When the book started, I wasn’t sure how I felt about and delivery driver, Logan, or neighbor, Gladys, but both become standout characters and steal the show. I’m not sure what it says about me that I was more invested in them than Katherine, the woman in danger.

I don’t want to say much about this novel for fear of giving the plot away. There are scenes that made me uncomfortable that touched on domestic abuse (I usually avoid such books but didn’t realize the theme before downloading it). That said, as intense as some scenes were, they didn’t turn me off from the story. I found it engrossing and was completely caught off guard by the twist at the end. This was a well-executed story, but I felt the blurb was misleading, thus the story was not what I expected. 3.5 stars rounded up to 4 for review purposes.


Everyone has secrets, and Rachel Holloway is no exception. She’s worked hard to keep the past where it belongs: dead and buried. And so far, she’s been very successful. 

But now the small newspaper where she works wants to produce a podcast on a cold case:  the disappearance twelve years ago of young Molly Forster.

Some secrets should never see the light of day, and as far as Rachel is concerned, whatever happened to little Molly is one of them. Rachel has a life now, a boyfriend she loves and a three-year-old daughter she adores, and she will do anything to protect them.

But to do that, no one can ever know that she is Molly Forster.


Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

I’m a fan of Natalie Barelli. This is the third book of hers I’ve read. I positively LOVED The Accident and The House Keeper. Missing Molly was an enjoyable read but not quite on par with the other two.

Molly Forster was the sole survivor the night her older sister and her parents were murdered. Only twelve at the time, she witnessed the killings and immediately went into hiding. Since then, she has lived under the radar through false identities. Now, her past has caught up with her in the form of a new podcast “Missing Molly,” which vows to discover what really happened to “little Molly.”

Sounds like a great set-up, right? Especially given Molly (now going by the name of Rachel) works for the newspaper that is producing the podcast. She ends up in a hands-on position, searching for answers, while trying to discourage interest in the podcast. Unable to do that, she tries to steer the focus away from finding Molly to what really happened the night of the killings—all the while trying to conceal her identity.

The first half of the book was exceptional. Molly’s panic has her acting erratically and making bad decisions. Her boyfriend (they have a young daughter together) and her closest friend fear she’s having psychotic episodes. The fast pace and drama kept me flipping pages. I really felt for Molly. Once she and a co-worker begin digging into the Forster family, mystery and investigative angles come into play. It’s clear the wrong person was convicted of the murders, and the true killer is still out there, getting closer to Molly so he can finish the job he started all those years ago.

Tension builds at the end, but I was disappointed in the overall revelation of the killer and the cover-up that took place. His appearance in Molly’s life happened too quickly, as did the wrap at the end. I did think the scenes that take place on a bridge were exceptionally good, and I was happy with the final ending. Overall, this is a diverting book and one that will certainly keep readers entertained. A solid read, just not on the level of some of Barelli’s other work. Either way, I remain a dedicated fan and look forward to other releases from this author. 3.5 stars rounded to 4 for review purposes.

56 thoughts on “Book Review Tuesday: The Family Across the Street by Nicole Trope @nicoletrope, Missing Molly by Natalie Barelli #suspense

  1. Glad you had a good vacation, Mae:) Sounds like fun, reading and shopping! Both blurbs pulled me in but I can see they don’t quite live up to them. Welcome back!

    Liked by 3 people

    • Vacation was wonderful, Jill. It’s always so hard coming back to reality, LOL.
      Glad to hear The Family Across the Street appeals to you. It was a good book, just not what I anticipated from the blurb.


    • Aww, thanks, Karen. I was SO READY for a vacation, LOL.
      And I’m glad you appreciated the reviews. I still consider a 3.5 review a good one, just not on par with other books I’ve read in this genre.


    • The ideas were excellent, Priscilla, and had I not known what Natalie Barelli is capable of, I probably would have rated hers higher. To be fair, I think Missing Molly was one of her earliest works.


  2. From the description, I’d also had the same expectations you did about The Family Across the Street, but it sounds like a very different story. I love the premise of the second book – talk about tension. Too bad the ending was a disappointment.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I really wanted The Family Across the Street to play out with the mystery the blurb hinted at, but the story went in a different direction.

      Were it not for the villain in Missing Molly and the way he inserted himself into the story, I think I would have enjoyed that one more.

      Two decent reads, but after some of the standouts I’ve had this year, I could rate them higher!.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for that wonderful compliment about reviews, Flossie. 🙂
      I agree that blurbs are so important. They set up reader expectation about what is to be found between the covers of a book. In this case, I felt the promise wasn’t delivered.


    • It was a wonderful staycation, Judi. I look forward to pool time with books every July! 🙂
      And you’re right about these two–both intriguing, just not home runs. After having so many of those lately, I was hoping for more of the same.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Jacqui, I was going to purchase The Family Across the Street when it was released, but then was approved for an ARC through NG. I’m so glad I was, because this is one story I would have not wanted to pay for.
      It was a good read, just not what I expected from the blurb.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Nice to hear that you has a lovely break.
    I like critical reviews Mae and these two sound like the ones. I’ve often felt that if one book of an author is too good, our expectations go higher and we want better each time. However, all can’t be masterpieces!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Vacation was wonderful, Balroop. I’m so glad I had a nice break.

      I think my expectations were definitely high for both of these books. The first because of the blurb, and the second because of the other books I’ve read by this author. To be fair, I think Missing Molly was one of her earliest works. As you said, they can’t all be home runs!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on both of these, Mae! So glad you enjoyed your vacation and got to get in some reading time. I don’t think I’ve ever read a book where the entire story takes place in one day. Very interesting!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I loved my vacation time, Jan. I can’t wait for more, LOL.
      I’ve read a few books where the entire story transpired in a number of hours or a single day. As a writer, I see that as a huge challenge. It makes for an interesting read for sure!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Sounds like you had a wonderful time enjoying friends and relaxation, glad to hear it. 🥰

    Fair reviews, Mae. These thrillers sound, interesting even though they didn’t pan out as you might have hoped. Thanks for the info!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Peachy. I’m already looking forward to the next vacation, LOL.
      Both books were good, just not on par with what I’ve been reading lately. They certainly kept me entertained despite some glitches overall.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Woohoo! I am so glad to hear that, LauraLynn. I think she is an awesome author. I have more of her books on my Kindle. If I hadn’t read her other work earlier, I’m sure I would have rated Missing Molly higher. I’m definitely a fan and will continue to read anything she releases. I am so thankful a review I did pointed you in her direction1


  6. The blurb of the first book caught my interest, but after reading your review, I’ll skip that. one. I have a Natalie Barelli book (The Housekeeper) on my TBR and I’m looking forward to reading it.


  7. Both books sound intriguing despite the weak points. I like the tension created by a whole book happening in one day, though I am a bit tired of domestic violence books after reading a bunch of them lately. I like the premise of Missing Molly. Thanks for the reviews, Mae. Happy Reading!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think you have to take a break from a genre every now and then. At least I do, Diana, so I fully get where a domestic violence thread can be tiring. I love domestic thrillers, but I don’t like domestic violence in the plot which probably seems like a contradiction, but it’s not.

      Missing Molly had a great premise, and I think if I hadn’t already read other books by Natalie prior to this one (which I think was earlier in her career) I probably would have been in love with it.

      Thanks for checking out the reviews. Happy reading!

      Liked by 1 person

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