574a3b5e5141438a52a3d6dd1b39c03fTWISTED RIVER

A Penguin Original

By Siobhan MacDonald

Trade paperback, 258 pages

March 22, 2016, $16.00


Siobhan MacDonald’s debut psychological thriller sets us down right after a husband witnesses the lifeless form of his wife. Twist the knife a little more because his daughter asks where mom is. You have to take careful note that this is presented a month before the book actually begins revealing the story.

We are then introduced to Kate, who lives in Ireland and has just turned down a promotion as assistant head of the Visual Communications Dept. at her company. Two reasons why: there’s her high-level autistic son, Fergus, who is having a difficult time at school being the victim of a bully. There’s also issues with Kate and Mannix’s marriage. But Kate has an idea that will create a little distance from their problems. She suggests that they respond to a “home sharing arrangement” in New York. The vacation will do them good.

Kate’s family counts the days until they can set out for New York. Once there, they are eager to explore the city, dine, and enjoy Oscar and Hazel Harvey’s wonderful American apartment. For Kate it doesn’t seem fair. Everything about the Harvey’s home seemed perfect. But you cannot completely veil abuse, fear, and denial.

The book reveals the perspectives of Kate, Mannix, Oscar and Hazel. That includes their past secrets, personal thoughts, and current relationship and work issues. As the story moves along, the author delivers slivers of evidence, which make us aware of a wife’s justified fear, a husband’s threatening behavior and then an uncontrollable envy of a lover. There’s also a very protective sister.

TWISTED RIVER wouldn’t have been a book I would have chosen because I tend to read more cozies. This mystery reads like a thriller. Now I’m interested in exploring that genre, as well. MacDonald was very clever in how she navigates the reader into believing who is the guilty party. I liked that she introduced the adult’s POVs as separate chapters. It clearly guides you without thinking who is talking now. It also helped you to understand what made them tick and messed up their lives later on. The characters were realistically betrayed, their concerns well founded. Several I could relate to. The story progressed at a good pace, never losing my interest. Did I learn anything from the book? Yes, that house sharing could be dangerous. You are not only sharing the home of a stranger, but their problems, as well. I feel so sorry for the children.

Four and a half house sharing arrangements out of five

Denise Fleischer


April 12, 2016