I've been on a bit of an audio book binge lately while walking, driving, cooking, cleaning - you name it. (3) of the (4) books were audios and thrillers which helped me to finish RIP Challenge as well.
The Dearly Beloved; Cara Wall
Simon & Schuster - 2019
The Dearly Beloved is a debut novel about love, faith, friendship and community. It's set in the 1950s -1960s New York City and follows two couples (Charles and Lily and James and Nan) from college to marriage and beyond. The men become co-ministers of a Presbyterian church in NYC. We witness the couple's struggles within their marriage, the community and their struggles with faith. Although religion and faith played a major theme in this novel, it didn't feel overly preachy or in your face. This book started out strong for me, but then the characters started to come across as rather flat. This was one of those stories that I found it harder and harder to get back to once I took a little break. I'm on the fence about a rating but, for me, I decided on 3/5 stars. I'm not sure whether I would have felt differently about the novel if I was a person of faith.
The First Mistake; Sandie Jones
MacMillan Audio - 2019
Set in the U.K. we meet Alice, who lost her first husband, Tom, in an accident. She still misses Tom even though she's now married to Nathan. Alice and her new husband run a successful international company founded by her first husband. Despite Alice's success and having two great daughters, she begins to have her doubts about her new husband and wonders whether he's been completely honest with her. She also suspects he might be having an affair. Alice confides in her best friend Beth about her suspensions but, before long her anxiety working overtime makes her wonder whether Beth has her best interests at heart.
Without giving too much info, this thriller that took the reader in directions I never expected. Everyone has secrets in this one -- who can you trust? The ending was a shocker as well. 4/5 stars
The Institute; Stephen King
Simon & Schuster Audio
The Institute was an 18+ hour audio book production that begins with a drifter named Tim Jamieson who takes a night beat job with a small town South Carolina sheriff's department and then jumps to main focus of the story, the exploitation and kidnapping of exceptional kids (younger than 16). Luke Ellis, is one of these children, kidnapped from his home in Minnesota and ending up in a strange place in Maine (The Institute). It's a tight knit operation kind of place with strict rules. Luke's not the only child, there are other gifted children who have suffered a similar fate and ended up like Luke-- kidnapped in the middle of the night and their parents murdered. The Institute is a place you enter, get promoted, as one progress through some cruel experimentation but, they don't get to leave. I liked that the Tim Jamieson character resurfaces once again before the end.
For me this story had more of a SF feel at times than horror. There is a good deal of physical and certainly mental abuse in this novel and you'll yes, you will be able to tell that Stephen King is no fan of our President as well. This novel felt like it could be a standalone but, by the end I found myself wondering whether there might be a sequel as the ending was a little loose and ambiguous. The audio narration (Santino Fontana) was very good (this story just way too long for me). I didn't feel it was scary and overall, I enjoyed this one. 4/5 stars.
The Whisper Man; Alex North
MacMillan Audio - 2019
I do love a good old intense thriller and many of the reviews I read called this "creepy, chilling etc". I listened to this one every evening, before bed for about a week and although the audio was excellent, and, the whispers - atmospheric, I never found this serial killer preying on a small town story too scary or felt the need to put it down. I did think it was an addictive story.
After Tom's wife dies unexpectedly, he tries for a fresh start in a new town with young son Jake. The town has a dark past, a serial killer Frank Carter, "The Whisper Man" was, however, finally caught. Soon after they settle down in their new town and house, which has a haunted feel, a young boy goes missing. Is this a copy-cat killer or were the rumors true, maybe Frank did have had a partner, who has now taken up where he left off? It isn't long before young Jake begins acting weird and hearing things.
This was an addictive story, perfect for those cooler fall nights. The character development was very good, the troubled characters, added to the intense feeling of dread at times. I heard was optioned for a movie, which could be great on a big screen production. The audio version was terrific and kept me in suspense and eager to find out how it would all turn out. 4.5/5 stars