‘Daisy Darker’ by Alice Feeney

“Families are like fingerprints; no two are the same, and they tend to leave their mark.”
― Alice Feeney, Daisy Darker

Alice Feeney’s latest novel, Daisy Darker, is a dark and twisty locked-room mystery of a family gathered together for their grandmother’s birthday. It was deliciously messy and full of family drama. This is a contender for my favorite novel of 2022.

Daisy Darker was born with a broken heart. She wasn’t particularly wanted by either of her parents, but nevertheless she survived and was brought home to start her life with her parents and her two older sisters. Flash forward years and Daisy’s entire family is assembling for Nana’s 80th birthday party on a tiny tidal island in her crumbling gothic house. The family has been avoiding each other for years, but a fortune teller foretold that Nana would die on her 80th birthday, so the family has assembled per her wishes.

As each member of the family arrives, they bring baggage, both physical and the secrets that they are all hiding from each other. The tidal island that Nana lives on means that the entire family will be shut off from the rest of the world for eight hours until the tide goes out. At midnight, a storm rages across the island. A scream pierces the night. Nana is found dead. An hour later, another family member is discovered dead. A deadly mystery has come to the island and the Darker family is left wondering who is responsible. Stuck on the island where someone is murdering the members of the Darker family one by one, they all must pull out their past secrets until they figure out the present murder mystery. They just have to make it until the tide goes out and they can escape the island. The deadly force on island may not let them leave alive though. Only time will tell.

This book is also available in the following formats:

‘One of Us is Dead’ by Jeneva Rose

“She was a forgive-and-forget kind of person. I, on the other hand, always believed there was another option on the table. Forgive, forget, or fucking never let it go.”
― Jeneva Rose, One of Us Is Dead

The above quote perfectly summarizes Jeneva Rose’s novel, One of Us is Dead. This is a twisty piece of psychological fiction that tells the story of female friends and the manipulative behavior that runs rampant in their town. I enjoy reading novels that have multiple narrators, especially when some of them prove to be unreliable. This book gave me strong Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty vibes – rich women, close-knit neighborhood, and secrets galore.

Shannon used to be the queen bee of Buckhead. Her husband Bryce is a politician with big goals – eventually he would love to be president. Everything is perfect until Bryce hit a midlife crisis, dumped Shannon, and replaced her with a much younger woman named Crystal. Even though Crystal and Bryce are now married, Shannon is convinced that Bryce will come back to her and if not, she wants revenge.

Crystal is a young innocent woman from Texas who had no idea that Bryce was married when the two of them got together. She has no idea what she’s in for as she tries to make in-roads with the women of Buckhead. Don’t count her out though – Crystal’s past is not as innocent as everyone thinks.

Olivia believes she should be the one in charge in Buckhead. When she came to Buckhead five years ago, Shannon said something to her that Olivia took offence, setting the two women on a collision course of competition ever since. Olivia wants to take everything from Shannon. With Bryce effectively neutralizing Shannon’s power by divorcing her, Olivia isn’t afraid to pull out every nasty manipulative, backstabbing, and underhanded trick at her disposal, no matter the cost.

Jenny may not be one of the rich women of Buckhead, but the fact that she owns Glow, the most exclusive salon in town, means that Jenny knows all of her clients’ secrets and desires. She sees it all, remembers it all, and carries the ammunition she needs to take down whomever she chooses in the group, especially if they threaten her livelihood.

Seven Dirty Secrets by Natalie D. Richards

I live for the drama of a teen psychological thriller, and Seven Dirty Secrets by Natalie D. Richards is no exception.

One year ago, Cleo’s boyfriend Declan drowned during a river rafting trip with their friends. Even though she has a new boyfriend now and is waiting for a scholarship to Michigan State to become a forensic scientist, she’s never really been able to leave Declan in the past. This makes it all the more chilling when on her eighteenth birthday, she starts to receive a cryptic and vaguely threatening clues leading her on a scavenger hunt, one that’s increasingly all about her rocky relationship with Declan. All her friends deny their involvement, even her brother Connor, so it’s up to Cleo and her best friend Hope to chase down the clues, racing the clock to keep their secrets from getting out, and hopefully to find out just who’s behind this – friend, foe, or Declan himself.

This is a vividly drawn and fast-paced story, full of twists, flashbacks, and revelations of all kinds. It engages with issues of race, domestic violence, blame, poverty, and trust, but is also full of loving, supportive friendships and family relationships.

If you loved All Your Twisted Secrets, One of Us is Lying, or Five Total Strangers, you’ll love Seven Dirty Secrets by Natalie D. Richards.

This title is also available on Overdrive.

The Golden Couple by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen

Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen are one of my favorite psychological thriller/mystery writing duos. They have written four novels together that I have adored (one specifically called The Wife Between Us whose twist is so unexpected that I couldn’t blog about it without giving away the whole plot)! Their latest novel, The Golden Couple, is a psychological thriller that had me on the edge of my seat.

The Golden Couple tells the story of Avery Chambers and her new clients, Marissa and Matthew Bishop. Avery is a therapist turned counselor, who lost her therapist license due to controversial methods. Now she has been featured in articles as an unorthodox counselor who only sees her clients for ten sessions. She has had amazing successes helping people with a variety of issues. If she can’t fix you using her ten session method, Avery will not take you on as a client.

Marissa and Matthew Bishop are wealthy and seem to have it all. Living in the suburbs of Washington DC, the couple have been married for years with a young son. Beneath the seeming perfection of their life, their relationship is full of work issues and a lack of intimacy. Their lives shift when Marissa is unfaithful. Desperate to save her marriage, Marissa reaches out to Avery to help her repair the damage done.

As soon as the three meet for the first time, Avery is intrigued. The couple glide into her office as if they haven’t a care in the world, but when Marissa reveals her infidelity, their carefully crafted veneer starts to crack. The relationship between the three becomes even more convoluted when Avery realizes that the Bishops are hiding more secrets than just Marissa’s infidelity. It quickly becomes apparent that saving their marriage is the least of their problems.

This book is also available in the following formats:

The Counselors by Jessica Goodman

Jessica Goodman is a bestselling young adult author who has been on my radar for awhile. The Counselors  is her third young adult thriller. As soon as I saw the descriptionI knew I had to give it a read. This book is a summer camp murder mystery. As a frequenter of many Girl Scout camps (and a true crime fan), I was fascinated by the premise of murder happening at a summer camp. Let’s get into it!

Goldie Easton grew up at Camp Alpine Lake. It’s the only place where she really feels safe. Goldie has been involved with camp since before she was old enough to be a camper. Her parents have been working there for as long as she can remember. Camp Alpine Lake helps keep the tiny town of Roxwood in business by providing money, jobs, and a sense of importance to the area. The campers are rich kids whose very wealthy families drop them at camp for eight weeks while paying a hefty tuition. Very few Roxwood locals get to reap the benefits of camp, prompting animosity between the town and camp, but Goldie is one of the chosen locals who gets to escape each summer.

Goldie may be a townie, but the minute she sets foot at camp, she feels comfort and that camp is where she is supposed to be. Having aged out of being a camper, Goldie is now a counselor. This year, she anxiously awaits her best friends’ arrival. She has known Ava and Imogen for years and can’t wait for them to be counselors together. The downside: Goldie has a horrible secret hanging over her though that threatens to destroy the close bonds the three have formed over their years together at camp.

Goldie’s secret isn’t the only one at camp this summer though. The longer camp goes on, the more she realizes that others aren’t telling the truth. Everything is thrown into the open when a teen is found dead in the lake by camp one night. The instant she hears the news, Goldie believes that this death could not have been an accident. One reason: Ava was out at the lake the same night the teen died, but refuses to talk about it or admit she was there. Why would Ava lie? Goldie is determined to find the truth. When she starts asking questions though, Goldie doesn’t find answers. Her questions instead bring up betrayals, deadly lies, danger, and destroyed relationships. The truth could lay waste to Goldie’s family, friends, and the one safe place she knows.

This book is also available in the following formats:

Like A Sister by Kellye Garrett

Like A Sister is the story of a woman demanding answers and fighting those who are determined to keep the truth hidden.

Desiree Pierce is a reality TV star whose fame plays out on social media amongst her many followers. When Desiree falls from grace, not many are surprised, especially not her half-sister Lena Scott. When Desiree’s body is found on a playground in the Bronx the morning after her 25th birthday party, police, media, and her fans quickly decide that her death must be an overdose. Lena doesn’t believe the official story and starts digging for the truth.

Lena grew up far from the spotlight. As a graduate student at Columbia, Lena has spent the last decade making a name for herself separate from her family. Just because she doesn’t place herself directly in the spotlight doesn’t mean that Lena doesn’t know her sister though. Lena knows that Desiree would never overdose and most importantly she would have never traveled alone to where she was found dead. Despite her truth, no one will listen to her.

Determined even more to find answers after she receives pushback, Lena looks into Desiree’s recent past. The two haven’t spoken in the last two years, but at the core of her, Desiree is the same sister Lena has known her entire life. Desiree may have loved to party hard, but her death deserves to be investigated fully. What Lena doesn’t expect is resistance from their father, Mel, a hip-hop mogul with vast fame and influence. If he wanted, Mel could snap his fingers and make the police jump to do his bidding. Instead Lena finds herself alone digging up family secrets on a journey that might even lead to her own death.

This book is also available in the following formats:

Such a Quiet Place by Megan Miranda

Megan Miranda is one of my favorite psychological suspense authors. Miranda’s latest novel, Such a Quiet Place, is a twisty, riveting books about a murder that happens in a close-knit and idyllic neighborhood. Megan Miranda loves adding twists to her books and the ones she adds here pack a punch!

Such a Quiet Place tells the story of Hollow’s Edge – a picture perfect neighborhood nestled along a lake where everyone knows everyone else, where they look out for each other. Their closeness is compounded by the fact that many of the residents work together at the local college. This idyllic peace is shattered with the murders of Brandon and Fiona Truett. Rumors begin to spread almost immediately after the bodies are found with residents searching their secrutiy cameras for clues and posting on their neighborhood message board.

Fast forward a year and a half. Hollow’s Edge is on the verge of an uproar. The residents who want to sell their homes aren’t able to, while the Truett house sits empty and haunts them. One spark is enought to send them panicking and that spark comes in the form of Ruby Fletcher. They implicated her as the killer at the trial, but now she’s out of jail and back in Hollow’s Edge for who knows how long.

Ruby’s conviction has been overturned and she shows up at the house she once shared with Harper Nash like nothing has happened. Harper is five years older than Ruby and has always treated her like a younger sister who has lost her way. With Ruby back, Harper is terrified. Why has she come back to Hollow’s Edge, the literal scene of the crime? How can Harper tell her to leave when Ruby has no other place to go?

Ruby’s arrival has the community up in arms. Suspicion spreads through the neighborhood. It soom becomes clear to Harper that not everyone told the truth about what happened the night Brandon and Fiona Truett died. Harper finds threatening notes at her house and realizes that she needs to find out who is responsible before the killer strikes again.

This book is also available in the following formats:

The Wife Upstairs by Rachel Hawkins

You may know I’m a big fan of classic retellings, and of Jane Eyre and Rebecca. The Wife Upstairs by Rachel Hawkins is the ultimate retelling of both Jane Eyre and Rebecca, with modern feminist sensibilities.

Jane is the new dog walker in Thornfield Estates and resents the casual privilege her extremely wealthy clients display, while she’s struggling to make ends meet and living with a creepy church musician for a roommate. It seems a huge stroke of luck when she hits it off with reclusive widower Eddie Rochester and embarks on a whirlwind romance. But her sense that something isn’t right only grows as they start to talk about marriage, since the spectre of Eddie’s late wife Bea is never far away, in the neighborhood, in Eddie, and in the house. To make matters worse, then the police start asking Eddie more questions about the night Bea went missing and her best friend Blance died, and Blanche’s husband has plenty of unpleasant insinuations to make. Not to mention Jane’s own past is threatening to rear its ugly head…

I love that this book uses all the Jane Eyre names, but makes the original characters make sense in the modern world – John Rivers for example is perfectly drawn as an unsettling religious figure who wants Jane for himself and treats her badly. The plot is also optimized for modern readers as strategic flashbacks, confessions, and slow reveals avoid the boggy parts of Jane Eyre by mixing past with present. Gone Girl, The Girl on the Train, and other unreliable-narrator thrillers are clear influences, and The Wife Upstairs easily joins their canon of feminist thrillers where realistic women earn their victories the hard way.

Reckless Girls by Rachel Hawkins

“Give it time. Nothing you feel is wrong. There will always be a before and an after, and you have to learn to live in the after.” – Rachel Hawkins, Reckless Girls 

Rachel Hawkins is proving she’s a contender among mystery writers with her latest book, Reckless Girls. With this being only her second foray into writing adult fiction (Hawkins had previously written young adult and juvenile fiction), she has crafted a suspenseful psychological mystery that takes place on an island in the middle of nowhere.

Lux McAllister has been drifting for a while. After her mother died, Lux found herself working a job she didn’t particularly like in California. Enter Nico. The minute he walked into the restaurant she was working in, Lux felt he would change her life. Soon enough, the two are living in Hawaii. Nico promised her trips around the world in his boat. Instead the two have been stuck in Hawaii while Nico waits for the money to fix his boat. Nico’s family is rich, so he could ask his dad for the money, but his pride is holding him back. Instead he works at the marina while Lux works as housekeeping at a local resort, hoping to save enough money to fix the boat and sail away.

One day Nico tells Lux that he has met two women who want to hire him to sail them to a remote island in the South Pacific. The best news: they want Lux to come. After they pay to have Nico’s boat, the Susannah, fixed, the four head off to Meroe Island. Their passengers are college best friends Brittany and Amma. They say they want to travel off the beaten path, but something about the two seems off to Lux. After all, why would the chose Meroe Island? The island has a mysterious and deadly history: shipwrecks, cannibalism, and murder have haunted the island for years. It is a gorgeous destination though.

The group descend upon Meroe Island only to discover that there is already another boat anchored just off sandy coast. Living aboard the Azure Sky are Jake and Eliza. They are the golden couple: rich, gorgeous, laidback, and most importantly, their large catamaran has a very well-stocked bar. All six of them immediately click and begin spending their days together exploring the island off grid. Lux finally feels at peace. That peace is shattered when secrets start bubbling to the surface. It appears that people aren’t being as honest as they presented themselves to be. Meroe Island’s exotic locale becomes less and less appealing the longer they stay. When someone turns up dead and another goes missing, emotions run high as they wonder how many will actually leave Meroe alive.

This book is also available in the following formats:

The Paris Apartment by Lucy Foley

“It’s not about where you came from. What kind of shit might have happened to you in the past. It’s about who you are. What you do with the opportunities life presents to you.”
― Lucy Foley, The Paris Apartment

The Paris Apartment is a locked room mystery that centers around the people living in a Paris apartment building. Jess needs a fresh start, especially since she doesn’t have a job anymore. After calling her half-brother Ben to ask if she can come crash with him, Jess is surprised that he isn’t there to greet her when she eventually shows up to his apartment building in Paris. He didn’t sound excited that she wanted to come last minute, but he’s family. Ben always keeps his word and would never leave her stranded.

When Jess eventually makes her way inside the building, she finds a very nice apartment that she is honestly surprised that Ben can afford. After all, he’s a journalist who mainly writes restaurant reviews and this is a fancy place. She searches his apartment, but there is no sign of Ben. Time passes and Ben still doesn’t show up. Jess starts digging into Ben’s life, starting with his neighbors. They are a slightly weird bunch, eclectic to put it nicely. Plus they’re not friendly. Jess’s innocent questions about Ben’s whereabouts put them on edge, which only prompts her to ask more questions. Why are they acting so cagey? And where is Ben?

This book is also available in the following formats: