Reviews: Circle of Doubt & The Wrong Family

 

Hi everyone!  It’s Sharon, so you know what that means… Thriller Thursday!  This week I have the psychological thriller, Circle of Doubt, and the domestic thriller, The Wrong Family.   Both of these books kept me fully engrossed and had twists I did not see coming.

 

Reviews: Circle of Doubt & The Wrong FamilyCircle of Doubt Goodreads

Author: Tracy Buchanan

Publication Date: January 5, 2021

Publisher: Lake Union Publishing

Emma and Dele adopted Isla 9 years ago when she was almost 2 years old.  Emma, Dele and Isla live in a small town called Forest Grove, just outside of London.  Emma has always been shy, so she really has no friends in their community. The one person she can turn to when she needs support or advice is her sister, Harriet. And Harriet is the only person (aside from their father) who knows the terrible secret that Emma has been hiding for years.

One day while dropping Isla off at school Emma runs into her new neighbors, Tatjana and Lawrence. Emma cannot believe how much Tatjana looks just like Jade, Isla’s birth mother. Emma tries to tell herself there is no way she can be Jade.  Jade was a 17-year-old drug addict, and this woman is beautiful and sophisticated and nothing like the troubled teen Emma remembers.  But when Tatjana takes too much of an interest in Isla, Emma’s suspicions start to grow. Then strange things start happening to Emma that make her look and feel like a bad parent.  She receives an email saying the deadline to pay for a school trip was pushed out when it wasn’t. Then she starts missing school notices (including one saying it was dress down day, so Isla went to school in her uniform). Someone also starts rumors about Emma and the husband of her only friend, and a dead crow is placed in the front grill of Emma’s car.  Who is behind all of this? Could Jade really be back to try and take Isla away? And will the awful secret that Emma has been hiding come back to haunt her?  Emma is not going to give up her daughter without a fight, so with the help of her sister Harriet, Emma tries to find out if Jade and Tatjana are one in the same and if she is behind everything that has been happening.

The book is told through the POV of Emma and also through chapters that are letters “written” to Isla from an unknown source. The letters explain the plan to unravel Emma and why this person is doing what they are doing. I liked how the story was presented this way. Even though we find out about halfway through the book who is behind everything, the tension and suspense still ramped up as we are reading everything that is happening to Emma and what she was going though. And knowing who was writing the letters just added to the tension.

I really liked how Emma faced everything that was happening head on. And even though at times she thought she was not being a good mother, she really was. When things got tough, she would not let it show to her daughter. She put on a brave face for Isla no matter what she was feeling. And when push finally came to shove, her momma bear claws came out.

I will say the book started off a bit slow for me, but the tension and suspense took off the more I got into it.  And there was one twist near the end that totally got me and made my mouth drop open.   3 ½ stars

 

Reviews: Circle of Doubt & The Wrong FamilyThe Wrong Family Goodreads

Author: Tarryn Fisher

Publication Date: December 29, 2020

Publisher: Graydon House

Tarryn Fisher’s mystery thriller The Wrong Family is full of flawed characters that kept me turning the pages and made me realize not everything is as it seems. What you see on the outside is not necessarily what is on the inside.

Juno is a sixty-seven former therapist who is originally from New Mexico. After a 2-year stint in prison due to unethical misconduct, which cost Winnie her family and practice, she moved to Seattle and is living with the Crouch family (Winnie, Nigel, and their son Sam). Juno has been diagnosed with lupus and is dying. One night she overhears a fight between Winnie and Nigel and she discovers that they are hiding a dark secret. Winnie doesn’t want to get involved; she just wants to live out her final days in peace. But the therapist in her just won’t let her sit back and let this secret destroy Sam, whom she has become close to. So she sets out to expose Winnie and Nigel’s secret and right the wrongs she believes they have done.

Winnie seems to have the perfect life on the outside, but on the inside it is falling apart. She used to be a counselor to the homeless but quit her job thirteen years ago. It was also thirteen years ago that

the dark secret that Juno overheard happened.  Without giving anything away, Winnie committed a horrible act that Nigel helped her cover up. Now, thanks to Juno, the details are starting to come to light and the cracks in Winnie and Nigel’s marriage are getting larger. Winnie is trying to hold things together for the sake of their son. But when her twin brother Dakota, who is an unhinged alcoholic and drug addict, comes to stay with them after his wife threw him out and then a stranger shows up on their doorstep claiming to know Winnie’s secret, all hell breaks loose.

I really cannot say too much more about this book, because anything I say would be a spoiler and I think it is best to go into this book blind.  What I can say is that this book is told in alternative POV’s from Winnie and Juno. They were both very complex and flawed characters. I flipped back and forth between liking and not liking them as different things were revealed as the story progressed.

I liked Juno as I was reading her chapters. While I may not have agreed with everything she did, I liked how she came across as the grandmotherly type with Sam. But then when I was reading Winnie’s views and what she was going though, I found myself having sympathy for her and I would get aggravated at Juno for what she was doing.  I like how Tarryn Fisher could make my views on these women change so much.

While this was not an edge of my seat thriller, the tension did ramp up at the end of the book and then I couldn’t read fast enough to find out how it was all going to play out. I also loved how the author wrapped up the story, nothing felt rushed.    3 ½ stars

17 replies
    • Sharon
      Sharon says:

      I do too. A lot of times in psychological thrillers, the lead female character comes off as sort of weak, and I find I want to shake they awake LOL It was nice have a strong character in Emma.

      Reply
  1. Suzanne
    Suzanne says:

    I mentioned this the first time I read the reviews, but I really like that The Wrong Family has an older protagonist. We need more books that feature older characters.

    Reply
  2. Verushka
    Verushka says:

    Circle of doubt and Emma are so interesting – the way Emma goes through everything makes me think I’d enjoy the characterisation in this book.

    Reply

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