Category Archives: Atria/Emily Bestler Books

Review: First Born by Will Dean

Title: First Born by Will Dean
Publisher: Atria/Emily Bestler Books
Genre: Contemporary, Domestic Thriller
Length: 365 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through Edelweiss


From the acclaimed author of The Last Thing to Burn, a psychological thriller about the dark secrets that emerge when a woman’s twin sister is murdered, with his signature “intense, gripping, taut, terrifying, moving, and brilliant” (Lisa Jewell, #1 New York Times bestselling author) prose.

Sisters. Soulmates. Strangers.

Molly Raven lives a quiet, structured life in London, finding comfort in security and routine. Her identical twin Katie, living in New York, is the exact opposite: outgoing, spontaneous, and adventurous.

But when Molly hears that Katie has died, possibly murdered, she is thrown into unfamiliar territory. As terrifying as it is, she knows she must travel across the ocean and find out what happened. But as she tracks her twin’s final movements, cracks begin to emerge, and she slowly realizes her sister was not who she thought she was and there’s a dangerous web of deceit surrounding the two of them.


First Born by Will Dean is a deliciously diabolical domestic thriller.

Molly and Katie Raven are twins but they are nothing alike. Molly is stricken with anxiety and sticks close to home. Katie is self-assurred, popular and venturesome. However, Molly and her parents are still shocked when she announces she is moving to the US to finish her degree. The twin’s parents are visiting their daughter in New York, when they discover her lifeless body inside her apartment. Molly musters up the courage to fly to the US to support her parents and find out what happened to Katie. She uncovers stunning information about her sister but will she unravel the truth about her death?

First Born is a devilishly clever psychological thriller that is incredibly fast-paced. Molly is way out of her comfort zone in New York, but she has to uncover the truth about Katie’s death. She unearths startling information about her twin and she does not hesitate to take her suspicions to the police.  The storyline is engaging and the mystery’s setting is well detailed and easy to visualize. With absolutely jaw-dropping twists and mind-blowing turns, Will Dean brings this mesmerizing domestic thriller to an eye-popping conclusion. HIGHLY recommend!

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Filed under Atria/Emily Bestler Books, Contemporary, First Born, Rated B+, Review, Suspense, Will Dean

Review: The Last Thing to Burn by Will Dean

Title: The Last Thing to Burn by Will Dean
Publisher: Atria/Emily Bestler Books
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense
Length: 256 pages
Book Rating: B

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


A woman being held captive is willing to risk everything to save herself, her unborn child, and her captor’s latest victim in this claustrophobic thriller in the tradition of Misery and Room.

On an isolated farm in the United Kingdom, a woman is trapped by the monster who kidnapped her seven years ago. When she discovers she is pregnant, she resolves to protect her child no matter the cost, and starts to meticulously plan her escape. But when another woman is brought into the fold on the farm, her plans go awry. Can she save herself, her child, and this innocent woman at the same time? Or is she doomed to spend the remainder of her life captive on this farm?

Intense, dark, and utterly gripping The Last Thing to Burn is a breathtaking thriller from an author to watch.


The Last Thing to Burn by Will Dean is a riveting yet bleak novel.

Thanh Dao and her sister Kim-Ly arrive in the UK with big dreams. While Kim-Ly works in Manchester, Thanh “Jane” has been sold to Lenn and lives on a pig farm in the Fenlands. Nearly eight years later, the only thing that keeps Jane going is the thought that her sister will soon be free of the “debt” she owes.  As for Jane, she lives a lonely existence with Lenn who controls absolutely every aspect of her life. But when she becomes pregnant, Jane never stops searching for the opportunity to escape from her captor.

Over the years, Jane has tried to escape so she knows what will happen if Lenn catches her. She bides her times and continues to outwardly acquiesce to his demands. But Jane makes sure to tell herself the truth every time she loses a piece of herself to Lenn. She spends her days doing housework and cooking for Lenn while she dreads the nights he takes her upstairs to the front bedroom. After she realizes she is pregnant, Jane knows that she cannot raise her child in captivity.

The farm is isolated and no one is aware Jane lives with Lenn. He spends his days working in the fields and he has very exacting standards for everything within the walls of his rundown home. Lenn follows Jane’s every move and he punishes her when he catches her out. With Jane in danger of losing her very identity, she waits for the perfect opportunity to escape his evil clutches.

The Last Thing to Burn is a suspenseful, character driven novel. Jane is the easy to empathize narrator of this heartrending story that delves into the seamy world of human trafficking. Jane’s desperation to escape is apparent with each turn of the page. The story is well-written with a grim setting that springs vividly to life. With increasing tension, Will Dean brings this haunting novel to a stunning conclusion.

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Filed under Atria/Emily Bestler Books, Contemporary, Rated B, Suspense, The Last Thing to Burn, Will Dean

Review: Mystic Summer by Hannah McKinnon

Title: Mystic Summer by Hannah McKinnon
Publisher: Atria/Emily Bestler Books
Genre: Contemporary, Fiction
Length: 304 pages
Book Rating: B

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through Edelweiss


A chance run-in with a college boyfriend puts a young woman’s picture-perfect life in perspective in this warm-hearted and lyrical novel—from the author of The Lake Season.

Since finishing graduate school, Maggie Griffin has worked hard to build an enviable life in Boston. She’s an elementary school teacher in a tony Boston suburb, a devoted sister, and a loving aunt. With her childhood best friend’s wedding quickly approaching and her own relationship blossoming, this is the summer she has been waiting for.

But when Maggie’s career is suddenly in jeopardy, her life begins to unravel. Stricken, Maggie returns home to seaside Mystic, Connecticut, where she expects to find comfort in family and familiarity. Instead, she runs into Cameron Wilder, a young man from her past who has also returned home, and whose life has taken a turn that puts Maggie’s city struggles in harsh perspective. When tragedy strikes for Cameron, Maggie is faced with big decisions as she weighs what matters most and strives to stay true to the person she’s become.

Set against the gorgeous backdrop of a New England summer when past and present collide, Mystic Summer is a gorgeous novel about looking back, moving forward, and the beauty that blooms when fate intervenes.


With an idyllic seaside setting and a delightful cast of characters, Mystic Summer by Hannah McKinnon is a heartwarming novel of family and friendship.

Maggie Griffin’s life is going just as planned: she has a wonderful job teaching elementary school, she has a terrific boyfriend and she remains close to her family despite living out of state.  However, with her best friend (and roommate) Erika’s wedding fast approaching, Maggie cannot help but feel like everyone is moving on without her.  Just she learns her position might be eliminated due to budget cuts, Erika’s wedding hits a major snag and Maggie suggests they move the nuptials to their hometown. Needing some time away, she volunteers to oversee the wedding preparations in Mystic and soon after her arrival, Maggie runs into her old college flame, Cameron Wilder.  While she and Cameron enjoy revisiting their favorite spots and reminiscing about the past, Maggie puts off making any decisions about her future.

Maggie is loyal, kindhearted and often puts others needs in front of her own.  Although she is thrilled that Erika is marrying the man of her dreams, she knows their friendship will be forever altered.  Dreading living on her own, Maggie has put off looking for a new apartment while secretly hoping she and her boyfriend, Evan, will move in together.  While she has been perfectly content with her relationship, once she reconnects with Cameron, she begins noticing little things about Evan that irritate her. Her friends and family certainly think that Evan is the perfect man for her, but Maggie is beginning to have doubts about their future together.  After Cameron faces an unexpected crisis, Maggie cannot help but wonder if there is room for her in his life.

Despite a few serious undertones, Mystic Summer is a light-hearted read with minimal angst or drama. The characters are multi-layered and well-rounded and the situations they are dealing with are realistic and easy to relate to. An absolutely charming novel with a heartfelt and uplifting storyline that readers of contemporary fiction are sure to love.

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Filed under Atria/Emily Bestler Books, Contemporary, Fiction, Hannah McKinnon, Mystic Summer, Rated B, Review

Review: An Evil Mind by Chris Carter

evil mindTitle: An Evil Mind by Chris Carter
Robert Hunter Series Book Six
Publisher: Atria/Emily Bestler Books
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, Suspense, thriller
Length: 368 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


From a Top 10 Sunday Times (UK) bestselling author comes an action-packed thriller featuring Robert Hunter, a criminal behavior psychologist turned LAPD detective, who must race to identify the most brutal, clever, and elusive serial killer yet…

A freak accident in rural Wyoming leads the sheriff’s department to arrest a man for a possible double homicide, but further investigations suggest a much more horrifying discovery—a serial killer who has been kidnapping, torturing, and mutilating victims all over the United States for at least twenty-five years.

The suspect claims he is a pawn in a huge labyrinth of lies and deception—but can he be believed?

The case is immediately handed over to the FBI, but this time they’re forced to ask for outside help. Ex-criminal behavior psychologist and lead detective with the Ultra Violent Crime Unit of the LAPD Robert Hunter is asked to run a series of interviews with the apprehended man.

These interviews begin to reveal terrifying secrets that no one could have foreseen, including the real identity of a killer so elusive that no one, not even the FBI, had any idea he existed—until now…


In Chris Carter’s newest release, An Evil Mind, a grisly discovery in the trunk of a car pits LAPD Detective Robert Hunter against a sadistic serial killer. This sixth installment in the Robert Hunter mystery series is a chilling psychological thriller that will keep readers on the edge their seats until the last page is turned.

After the owner of the car is arrested and transferred into FBI custody, he refuses to speak to anyone but Robert Hunter. Robert does not recognize the prisoner’s name, but as soon as he sees a picture of “Liam Shaw”, he knows exactly who the FBI have in custody. Certain a mistake has been made, Robert agrees to fly to Quantico to talk to the prisoner and after their first meeting, he remains convinced the FBI have arrested the wrong man. However, soon after their investigation begins, he and FBI Special Agent Courtney Taylor are stunned by what they discover. When they return to discuss their findings with Liam, Robert is horrified to learn that Liam is probably one of the most vicious and prolific serial killers he has ever encountered.

In an effort to learn the breadth of his crimes, Robert and Courtney begin a series of interviews with Liam.  Liam agrees to reveal his victims’ names along with the location of their remains but only if Robert and Courtney agree to answer his questions with complete honesty. Wanting to bring closure to the friends and families of the missing persons, they reluctantly agree to Liam’s conditions. However, neither Robert nor Courtney are prepared for what Liam is about to reveal nor do they suspect how deeply personal he will probe into their lives. Liam’s queries about Robert’s painful past are met with resistance but in the end, Robert has no choice but revisit the unhealed wounds he carries with him.

With each interview session, the tension builds as Liam discloses the horrific details of his increasingly gruesome and sadistic murders. Staggered by the extent of Liam’s depravity, Robert must put aside his personal feelings when Liam makes an appalling announcement that puts them in a race against time to find his latest victim. Ignoring his instincts, Robert gives in Liam’s demands and accompanied by Courtney, the three embark on an adrenaline filled journey that is full of shocking twists and turns.

An Evil Mind by Chris Carter is a dark and twisted psychological thriller that is impossible to put down. With brilliantly developed characters, an unpredictable storyline and mind-boggling plot twists, this suspense-laden novel thunders at a breakneck speed to a dramatic and action-filled conclusion that will keep readers’ guessing the final outcome right up until the very last page. An absolutely outstanding police procedural that I highly recommend to old and new fans of the Robert Hunter series.


Filed under An Evil Mind, Atria/Emily Bestler Books, Chris Carter, Contemporary, Mystery, Rated B+, Review, Robert Hunter Series, Suspense, Thriller

Review: The Lake Season by Hannah McKinnon

lake seasonTitle: The Lake Season by Hannah McKinnon
Publisher: Atria/Emily Bestler Books
Genre: Contemporary, Fiction, Romance
Length: 384 pages
Book Rating: A

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through Edelweiss


Set in the weeks leading up to an idyllic New England wedding, this “enticing and refreshing” (Nancy Thayer, New York Times bestselling author) novel sparkles with wry wit, sweet romance, and long-kept family secrets.

Iris Standish has always been the responsible older sibling: the one with the steady marriage, loving family, and sensible job. But all of a sudden, as her carefully-constructed life spins out of her control, a cryptic postcard from her estranged sister Leah arrives at the perfect time: Please Come. Iris seizes her chance to escape to her childhood lakeside home, where Leah is planning her summer wedding to a man their New Hampshire clan has never met.

Against a backdrop of dress fittings, floral arrangements, and rehearsal dinners, Leah hides secrets of her own. And while her sister faces a past that has finally caught up to her, Iris prepares to say good-bye to a future that is suddenly far from certain. As new love beckons and Hampstead Lake shimmers in the background, Iris must decide when to wade in cautiously and when to dive—and, ultimately, how to ferry herself to safe harbors in this enticing novel of second chances and the ties that bind.


Hannah McKinnon’s The Lake Season is an absolutely delightful gem! An idyllic lakefront property is the perfect setting for Iris Standish to rediscover herself as she tries come to terms with her upcoming divorce. She also learns startling information about her younger sister Leah who is also home preparing for her upcoming wedding. But it is her unexpected romance with Cooper Woods that truly helps her heal but the future of their relationship is uncertain once Iris returns to her regular life.

Although their sixteen year marriage has been troubled for quite some time, Iris is still stunned when her husband Paul tells her he wants a divorce. Barely able to cope with day to day life, a cryptic postcard from Leah provides Iris with an excuse to escape to her childhood home. The family farm has undergone a few changes in her absence but the one thing that appears to be exactly the same is her sister. Leah still seems to be a little reckless and attention seeking, but Iris becomes concerned by some of Leah’s inexplicable behavior. Although Iris tries to get Leah to open up, Leah refuses to confide in her and their relationship becomes strained when the sisters fall back into childhood patterns.

Iris immediately feels like an outsider at her childhood home and she is further dismayed once she realizes how far out of the family loop she is. Leah’s return does not help with the disconnect Iris is experiencing and when Leah steps back into her role of the favored daughter, Iris is not only hurt, but angered that no one expects Leah to take responsibility for her actions. Iris takes refuge in assisting Cooper with the barn renovations and she is pleasantly surprised by their easygoing friendship. In the beginning, working with Cooper provides her a mindless distraction from her worries, but as she becomes skilled at new tasks, Iris begins to thrive as she recovers her lost self-esteem. Her camaraderie with Cooper soon gives way to a mutual attraction and as they tentatively embark on a romance, sibling rivalry, jealousy and startling revelations threaten their fragile bond.

The Lake Season paints a realistic portrait of life’s messy relationships. Siblings’ relationships are often complicated by rivalry that sometimes lasts into adulthood while parental relationships often suffer from lasting resentment over perceived parental favoritism of one sibling over another.  Marriages sometimes never recover from the stress establishing careers, infertility and raising children. Although staying together seems like the best choice for the children, should parents be expected to give up their happiness to give their kids a two parent household? Hannah McKinnon brilliantly weaves all of these thought-provoking topics into an emotional and compelling story that is heartwarming and ultimately healing. An utterly fantastic novel with a beautiful setting and an incredible cast of characters that I absolutely loved and highly recommend.

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Filed under Atria/Emily Bestler Books, Contemporary, Fiction, Hannah McKinnon, Rated A, Review, Romance, The Lake Season

Review: Remember Me This Way by Sabine Durrant

remember wayTitle: Remember Me This Way by Sabine Durrant
Publisher: Atria/Emily Bestler Books
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery/Suspense/Thriller
Length: 368 pages
Book Rating: B

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


With an unforgettable cast of characters and exhilarating twists and turns, this brilliant psychological thriller from the author of Under Your Skin is sure to please fans of Gone Girl.

Everyone keeps telling me I have to move on. And so here I am, walking down the road where he died, trying to remember him the right way.

A year after her husband Zach’s death, Lizzie goes to lay flowers where his fatal accident took place.

As she makes her way along the road, she thinks about their life together. She wonders whether she has changed since Zach died. She wonders if she will ever feel whole again.

At last she reaches the spot. And there, tied to a tree, is a bunch of lilies. The flowers are addressed to her husband. Someone has been there before her.

Lizzie loved Zach. She really did. But she’s starting to realize she didn’t really know him. Or what he was capable of…


Remember Me This Way is a spine-tingling, suspense-laden psychological thriller. The novel is full of clever twists and turns and Sabine Durrant makes it virtually impossible to guess the mystery’s final outcome right up until the very end.

On the one year anniversary of her husband Zack’s death, Lizzie Carter is finally ready to visit the site of his accident and finish settling his estate. She is surprised to see that someone has left a bouquet of memorial flowers at the accident scene, but it is the attached message that rouses a few suspicions. When she reaches his cottage, she is further unsettled by some missing items that lead her to believe that Zack might have faked his own death. After she returns home, Lizzie becomes certain that is Zack alive and he is stalking her. When no one takes her fears seriously, she begins her own investigation and Lizzie quickly discovers that she really did not know Zack at all.

Lizzie is a somewhat unreliable narrator because she is rather fuzzy on the day to day details of her life. She feels guilty for some of the events that occurred in the days leading up Zack’s death and her lingering grief further clouds her judgment. There are also some very strange occurrences that bolster her belief that he is still alive but why would Zack fake his death? The answer to that question is revealed bit by bit through the lies that Lizzie uncovers and her memories of her relationship with Zach.

The most chilling revelations are divulged through passages from Zack’s point of view. As he reflects on his previous relationships and his marriage, a frightening picture become to emerge. In the days and months leading up to his death, he becomes increasingly controlling of Lizzie and his behavior grows more volatile and erratic.  But does this mean that Zach deliberately faked his death only to return to stalk and terrorize Lizzie?

Remember Me This Way is a riveting mystery that is fast paced and quite engrossing. The storyline is well written with numerous plot twists and Sabine Durrant brings the novel to a very unexpected conclusion. A positively brilliant psychological thriller that I highly recommend to fans of the genre.

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Filed under Atria/Emily Bestler Books, Contemporary, Mystery, Rated B, Remember Me This Way, Review, Sabine Durrant, Suspense, Thriller