Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #PsychologicalThriller STALKING GIDEON CAIN by @KerryDenney @thewordverve

Today’s team review is from Frank. Find out more about him here https://franklparker.com/

Rosie's #Bookreview Team #RBRT

Frank has been reading Stalking Gideon Cain by Kerry Alan Denney

At first I thought the set up for this psychological thriller was unrealistic. Perhaps it would turn out to be one of those tongue in cheek spoofs. I am not sure at what point I became hooked, but I did. I surrendered completely, suspending disbelief and settling back to enjoy the ride. And what a ride it was!


The principle protagonist is a successful writer, recklessly pursuing a playboy lifestyle. It does not take long, however, to realise that he is still wracked by grief resulting from the tragic loss of his wife and daughter a decade before.


As I became engaged in the increasingly complicated plot; as new, well rounded characters were introduced, I thought of one of my favourite British writers, Kate Atkinson. But Denney is an American author, writing for an American audience, so there is far more violence than you would find in any of Atkinson’s novels. In addition to the violent scenes, there is some clever technology deployed in the campaign against Gideon and by his helpers in retaliation. This made me think that the book is much closer to Stieg Larson than to Kate Atkinson. But interspersed with the violent scenes are some beautifully described periods of respite during which Gideon’s relationships with his parents and his closest friends are explored, complete with interesting back stories. The settings, interior and exterior, in Georgia, are exquisitely described without over embellishment.

Among the characters are animals, children and mentally handicapped youngsters, all brought vividly to life. A number of different points of view are utilised. Two extraordinarily well realised scenes come to mind in particular: a dog running away from one of the villains, written entirely from the dog’s point of view; a mentally handicapped youth in captivity describing his situation and his captors. Both are completely believable without falling into the trap of becoming over sentimentalised. They demonstrate the range of skills Denney is able to deploy and that raise this book way above the high tech, high body count, bloodfest it might otherwise have become.


Gideon’s parents, too, are sympathetically drawn and play a significant, if minor, role in the plot’s resolution. Along the way we are introduced to several characters whose talents make them candidates for inclusion in future novels from this author. Indeed, it is quite possible that one or more have already appeared in previous novels. Whether they have or have not, I intend to delve deeper into Denney’s oeuvre in the future.

As already indicated, this is a book for you if you enjoyed The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo trilogy. If too much gore and an escalating body count put you off, you might want to avoid it. But I would urge you not to. You might discover, as I did, that you will be captivated by the sheer skill of this writer as he takes you on a roller coaster ride in the company of a cast of memorable characters.


I unhesitatingly give it five stars.

Desc 1

Bestselling author Gideon Cain is losing his mind. Everywhere he turns lately, the femme fatales from his psychological thrillers show up—live and in person. Are they actresses playing a cruel joke on him, figments of his increasingly terrifying delusions, or fantastical vigilantes sprung to life from the pages of his books? All he knows for certain is if he doesn’t find answers soon, he’s bound for the psych ward.

When one of his fictional antagonists poisons him on a flight home from a book-signing tour, he realizes that someone isn’t just messing with his mind—they’re trying to kill him.

Now he’s running for his life from an enemy with a weapon so deadly it can kill with the touch of a button. Only an enigmatic woman from his tragic past can help him discover the truth behind his adversary’s vendetta. And time is running out to stop the madman who is stalking Gideon Cain.

AmazonUk | AmazonUS (publication May 21st)

Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT Domestic Noir A Year In The Life Of Leah Brand by Lucinda E. Clarke

Today’s team review is from Olga, she blogs here https://www.authortranslatorolga.com

#RBRT Review Team

Olga has been reading A Year In The Life Of Leah Brand by Lucinda E. Clarke

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I find this review quite difficult to write, because I don’t think I am the ideal reader for this book. I am sure people who don’t work in mental health and don’t read as many thrillers as I do will not have the same issues I had. Let me clarify. Clarke knows how to write, for sure. She builds up the tension slowly, creates credible (they might be annoying and irritating at time, but that is what makes them real) characters, has a great sense of rhythm and pace (things seem to be happening slowly at first, then get increasingly faster; we have breaks to allow us to catch our breath, and then things get even weirder and scarier), and piles up ambiguous evidence that can be interpreted in different ways. She also chooses well the point of view of the story; it is told in the first person (so readers who don’t like first-person narratives, be warned) from Leah’s perspective, and that allows us to experience all her doubts, hesitations, and to witness events through her eyes. Due to the nature of the story, that works perfectly well, as it manages to keep the surprises well-hidden. (I suspected what was happening from early on, but then… No, no spoilers).

However, some aspects of the plot stretched too much my suspension of disbelief, to the point where the story lost some of its hold on me. As a habitual reader of thrillers and police procedural novels, I do prefer books on those genres to be —even when the events might be rather extreme— fairly realistic when it comes to details and settings, unless they blend genres or take place in an alternative universe. For me, this book seems to fit into the domestic noir category that has become quite popular in recent years, and I am slowly coming to the realisation that this genre is not a great fit for me. I have similar issues with it as I have with cozy mysteries: I like the premise; in some cases I really enjoy the story and the characters; but there are aspects that don’t work for me, mostly to do with the actual mystery.

I won’t go into a lot of detail about the plot, to avoid spoilers and also because the description offers readers enough information already. My favourite character was Aunt Deirdre. Leah, the protagonist, has survived such tough and dramatic circumstances that it’s impossible not to sympathise with her, but I must admit to finding her annoying at times and wanting to grab her and force her to take charge of things, while at the same time imagining how hard it would be to have to face what she was going through, feeling so helpless after being undermined at every turn. Most of the other characters are dislikeable or ambiguous (they seem to blow hot and cold or are nasty most of the time), and there are some we don’t get to know too well, but, of course, as we see everything from the character’s perspective, sometimes it’s difficult to extricate what is what (and that’s the point, evidently).

As I said, the book is well-written, the pacing, the clues and red-herrings build-up and grab readers’ attention, and there is no excess violence or any explicit sex scenes. The thrill (or the threat) is mostly psychological, and the effect on Leah’s character and self-confidence are compellingly portrayed. The self-doubts and her hesitation ring true as well.

I’ve already said that some of my issues with the believability of the story are probably due to my experience working as a psychiatrist in the UK, and that means that some of the details of the story don’t work for me, but that shouldn’t put off other prospective readers. I also found there was a twist too many in the story, and that’s all I’ll say about the ending.

This is a page-turner and I’m sure readers of domestic noir who prefer stories with no explicit violence, love a first-person narrative and an ambiguous/unreliable narrator, will enjoy this story. A fun and fast read, but not exactly what I was looking for.

Book description

Leah’s nightmare began the day the dog died.

A few years earlier a fatal car crash took the lives of Leah’s beloved husband and their two babies, leaving her disabled. Life looked bleak. She was approaching forty, unemployed, broke and desperate.

Then she met Mason. He was charming, charismatic, persuasive, and a successful businessman, well respected in the community. His teenage daughter did nothing to welcome Leah into the family, but life is never perfect.

Then, two years into her second marriage, Leah Brand’s world is turned upside down; inanimate objects in the house move, her clothes are left out for the rubbish collection, pieces of furniture change places, there are unexplained noises and hauntings.

As the disturbances increase, everyone accuses Leah of losing her mind. Soon she begins to doubt herself and she starts to spiral down into a world of insanity. Is she going mad, or is someone out to destroy her? And if so, why?

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

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