Category Archives: Gallery/Scout Press

Review: The Harbor by Katrine Engberg

Title: The Harbor by Katrine Engberg
Translated by Tara F. Chace
Kørner and Werner Series Book Three
Publisher: Gallery/Scout Press
Genre: Contemporary, Noir, Mystery
Length: 348 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


From the #1 internationally bestselling author of The Butterfly House, called “brazen and original” by The Toronto Star, comes a timely, suspenseful, and darkly original new novel about a missing child and the web of lies that has threatened his life—and may prevent him from ever being found.

When fifteen-year-old Oscar Dreyer-Hoff disappears, the police assume he’s simply a runaway—a typically overlooked middle child doing what teenagers do all around the world. But his frantic family is certain that something terrible has happened. After all, what runaway would leave behind a note that reads:

He looked around and saw the knife that had stabbed Basil Hallward. He had cleaned it many times, till there was no stain left upon it. It was bright and glistened. As it had killed the painter, so it would kill the painter’s work, and all that that meant. It would kill the past, and when that was dead, he would be free.

It’s not much to go on but it’s all that detectives Jeppe Kørner and Anette Werner have. And with every passing hour, as the odds of finding a missing person grow dimmer, it will have to be enough.


Set in Copenhagen, The Harbor by Katrine Engberg is a compelling mystery. Although this newest release is the third book in the Kørner and Werner series, it can be read as a standalone.

Detectives Jeppe Kørner and Anette Werner’s latest case is the puzzling disappearance of fifteen-year-old Oscar Dreyer-Hoff. His parents, Malin and Henrik, do not realize he is missing until he fails to return home from an overnight stay with his friend, Iben Skytte. With little to go on but the perplexing note Oscar left  for his parents, Jeppe and Anette work hard to locate the teenager before it is too late.

The Dreyer-Hoff family is wealthy so Kørner and Werner have to consider the possibility that Oscar might have been kidnapped. Without a ransom demand, they begin looking into both the missing teen and his parents. They also must question Iben and her father Kasper in order to find exactly when he vanished. After a discovery at the harbor, Jeppe and Anette begin to suspect there might be another reason for Oscar’s inexplicable disappearance.

The case takes an urgent turn when a body is found at the garbage incinerator company where Kasper works. There is clearly something going on with him, but does it have anything to do with Oscar? Anette cannot sit around and do nothing as they fail to locate Oscar or find any tangible details for where he could be. Working on a hunch they might have missed something, she goes back over previously investigated territory hoping to find anything that could help find Oscar.

The Harbor is an intriguing mystery with a fascinating cast of characters. The storyline is well-develoved and moves at a steady pace.  Copenhagen springs vividly to life as Jeppe and Anette work diligently to crack this mystifying case.  With cunning twists and shocking turns, Katrine Engberg brings this suspenseful mystery to a satisfying conclusion. Old and new fans of the terrific Kørner and Werner series are sure to enjoy this latest installment.

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Filed under Contemporary, Gallery/Scout Press, Katrine Engberg, Kørner and Werner Series, Mystery, Noir, Rated B+, Review, Suspense, The Harbor

Review: The Drowning Kind by Jennifer McMahon

Title: The Drowning Kind by Jennifer McMahon
Publisher: Gallery/Scout Press
Genre: Contemporary, Historical, Supernatural, Thriller
Length: 336 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


From the New York Times bestselling author of The Invited and The Winter People comes a chilling new novel about a woman who returns to the old family home after her sister mysteriously drowns in its swimming pool…but she’s not the pool’s only victim.

Be careful what you wish for.

When social worker Jax receives nine missed calls from her older sister, Lexie, she assumes that it’s just another one of her sister’s episodes. Manic and increasingly out of touch with reality, Lexie has pushed Jax away for over a year. But the next day, Lexie is dead: drowned in the pool at their grandmother’s estate. When Jax arrives at the house to go through her sister’s things, she learns that Lexie was researching the history of their family and the property. And as she dives deeper into the research herself, she discovers that the land holds a far darker past than she could have ever imagined.

In 1929, thirty-seven-year-old newlywed Ethel Monroe hopes desperately for a baby. In an effort to distract her, her husband whisks her away on a trip to Vermont, where a natural spring is showcased by the newest and most modern hotel in the Northeast. Once there, Ethel learns that the water is rumored to grant wishes, never suspecting that the spring takes in equal measure to what it gives.

A haunting, twisty, and compulsively readable thrill ride from the author who Chris Bohjalian has dubbed the “literary descendant of Shirley Jackson,” The Drowning Kind is a modern-day ghost story that illuminates how the past, though sometimes forgotten, is never really far behind us.


The Drowning Kind by Jennifer McMahon is an atmospheric supernatural thriller.

Growing up, Jax Metcalf and her sister Lexi spend their summers at their grandmother’s house Sparrow Crest. The girls are mostly unsupervised as they roam around the grounds and go to town. But the best part of their days is when they are swimming in the natural spring pool. Breaking their grandmother’s rules, Lexi and Jax swim after dark and alone.

The girls are close until Lexi’s bipolar disorder leads to Jax distancing herself from her sister in adulthood. Jax is now a social worker whose resentment over Lexi inheriting Sparrow Crest causes her to ignore her sister. After not answering or returning Lexi’s frantic calls one night, Jax is shocked when her Aunt Diane discovers her sister has drowned. Returning to Sparrow Crest for Lexi’s funeral, Jax tries to figure out why her sister was apparently studying their family history, Sparrow Crest and the pool. Will Jax continue her Lexi’s research?

In 1929, Ethel Monroe and her husband, Will are newly married and trying for a baby. Ethel is so desperate to get pregnant she is willing to try anything. After one of her friends tells her of magic springs that grant wishes, she and Will spend a few nights at the new, luxurious hotel built by the magical water. Ethel ignores her friend’s warning that once the wish is granted, there will be a price to pay. She and Will are delighted when she soon becomes pregnant. But Ethel and Will go to great lengths to keep their baby healthy after her birth.

The Drowning Kind is a riveting supernatural thriller with a clever storyline. Jax’s remorse over not talking to Lexi takes her down a dangerous path. Sparrow Crest and the swimming pool have a dark history that is very intriguing. The story is well-written and features an interesting cast of characters. With unexpected twists and turns, Jennifer McMahon brings this eerie thriller to a shocking conclusion.

I greatly enjoyed and highly recommend this deliciously spooky novel.

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Filed under Contemporary, Gallery/Scout Press, Ghosts, Historical, Historical (20s), Jennifer McMahon, Rated B+, Review, Supernatural Elements, The Drowning Kind, Thriller

Review: One by One by Ruth Ware

Title: One by One by Ruth Ware
Publisher: Gallery/Scout Press
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, Suspense
Length: 383 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


The #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Turn of the Key and In a Dark Dark Wood returns with another suspenseful thriller set on a snow-covered mountain.

Getting snowed in at a luxurious, rustic ski chalet high in the French Alps doesn’t sound like the worst problem in the world. Especially when there’s a breathtaking vista, a full-service chef and housekeeper, a cozy fire to keep you warm, and others to keep you company. Unless that company happens to be eight coworkers…each with something to gain, something to lose, and something to hide.

When the cofounder of Snoop, a trendy London-based tech startup, organizes a weeklong trip for the team in the French Alps, it starts out as a corporate retreat like any other: PowerPoint presentations and strategy sessions broken up by mandatory bonding on the slopes. But as soon as one shareholder upends the agenda by pushing a lucrative but contentious buyout offer, tensions simmer and loyalties are tested. The storm brewing inside the chalet is no match for the one outside, however, and a devastating avalanche leaves the group cut off from all access to the outside world. Even worse, one Snooper hadn’t made it back from the slopes when the avalanche hit.

As each hour passes without any sign of rescue, panic mounts, the chalet grows colder, and the group dwindles further…one by one.


Set in the French Alps, One by One by Ruth Ware is an atmospheric, tension-filled mystery.

Chalet hosts Erin and Danny welcome the latest guests to Chalet Perce-Neige and they are immediately unimpressed with the Snoop app owners and employees. Co-founders Topher and Eva are glamorous  yet entitled and rude.  Coder Elliot spends most of his time working.  Rik and Miranda are clearly more than co-workers. Inigo is Topher’s personal assistant but he is also intimately involved with Eva. Ani, Tiger and Carl round out the rest of Snoop team.  Liz no longer works for Snoop but she is a shareholder. With a lucrative offer for the app on the table,  Topher, Eva, Elliot and Liz are expected to vote on whether or not to sell or find other funding to keep Snoop solvent. They are not in agreement about the future for Snoop and when an afternoon skiing trip turns deadly, is it just an unfortunate accident or something more sinister?

With a storm headed their way, the Snoop team cut their business meetings short to go skiing. Although not everyone is enthusiastic about skiing, they head out to enjoy a few hours on the slopes.  Erin and Danny become a little concerned when they fail to appear for lunch but they try to keep their worries at bay.  The reason for the delay becomes clear when all of the group return except for one person. Before Erin has the chance to begin her search, an avalanche isolates them and cuts off the various avenues for escape.

One person is able to make a call for help before the spotty cell coverage becomes non-existent.  When a power outage means no wifi, they remain hopeful help is on the way.  After another death that is clearly a murder, everyone begins to view one another with suspicion. Danny and Erin strongly suggest everyone pair up and avoid venturing anywhere alone, but they soon learn someone leaves on their own to seek help.  After another night passes, they wake up to the terrible discovery that the killer has struck yet again. How many more  people will die before help arrives?

With chapters alternating between Liz and Erin’s points of view, One by One is a clever mystery that is fast-paced.  The suspense builds as suspicions grow and tempers  flare. The isolation, bad weather, and the inability to contact authorities add another layer of danger to an increasingly fraught situation. With a series of breathtaking twists and turns, Ruth Ware brings this spellbinding mystery to an action-packed conclusion.  An absolutely riveting mystery that I highly recommend to fans of the genre.

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Filed under Contemporary, Gallery/Scout Press, Mystery, Rated B+, Review, Ruth Ware, Suspense

Review: The Death of Mrs. Westaway by Ruth Ware

Title: The Death of Mrs. Westaway by Ruth Ware
Publisher: Gallery/Scout Press
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, Suspense
Length: 384 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of In a Dark, Dark WoodThe Woman in Cabin 10, and The Lying Game comes Ruth Ware’s highly anticipated fourth novel.

On a day that begins like any other, Hal receives a mysterious letter bequeathing her a substantial inheritance. She realizes very quickly that the letter was sent to the wrong person—but also that the cold-reading skills she’s honed as a tarot card reader might help her claim the money.

Soon, Hal finds herself at the funeral of the deceased…where it dawns on her that there is something very, very wrong about this strange situation and the inheritance at the center of it.

Full of spellbinding menace and told in Ruth Ware’s signature suspenseful style, this is an unputdownable thriller from the Agatha Christie of our time.


The Death of Mrs. Westaway by Ruth Ware is a British mystery with a deliciously Southern gothic atmosphere.

Harriet “Hal” Westaway is a twenty-one year old woman who is struggling financially and is danger of losing not only her home but her livelihood. An unexpected missive from a lawyer detailing a possible inheritance is pretty much a godsend considering her current circumstances. The only catch? Hal knows she has received the letter in error. Despite a bit of mental wrangling, Hal decides to attend Hester Westaway’s funeral and then attempt to bluff her way into inheriting what she assumes will be a paltry but much needed sum of money.  At the gloomy and rundown estate, Trespassen house, Hal is met by Mrs. Warren who is the home’s crotchety and creepy housekeeper and the other heirs, Harding and his family, Abel and his partner Edward Ashby and Ezra, all brothers of her “mother” Maud.  Growing more and more uneasy with her plan, Hal is ready to abandon her “inheritance” but as she learns more about the family’s history and her possible connection to them, she feels duty bound to try to uncover the secrets of Trespassen House and its occupants.

Hal has been eking out a living on the Brighton Pier as a tarot card reader but winter business is somewhat dicey due to the lack of tourists. She also finds herself at the mercy of an unscrupulous money lender whom she owes a great deal of money. Uneasy about her decision to hoodwink the Westaway heirs out of part of their inheritance, she nonetheless feels like they won’t miss the trifling amount she thinks she will inherit. Hal feels a great deal of trepidation upon arriving at the gloomy, rundown estate but it is not until she is shown to her attic bedroom that she truly becomes worried about her scheme.

The reading of the will commences right away and Hal, along with her “uncles” are absolutely stunned over Mrs. Westaway’s bequeaths.  With her fear growing about what will happen once the truth about her scheme is exposed, Hal grows more and more desperate to escape back to her regular life. Her uneasiness continues to grow with each passing hour and Hal plans to extricate herself from the tension-filled household as soon as possible. However, after discovering her mother’s shocking connection to the Westaway family, Hal knows she has to find out the truth about this unexpected information. Her fateful decision could mean learning the truth about her father’s identity but it also puts Hal’s life in jeopardy as she continues digging into the past.

The Death of Mrs. Westaway is an incredibly atmospheric and suspense-laden mystery. Hal’s experiences as a tarot-card reader provide her with an edge as she relies on her intuition and her mother’s advice to ferret out information about the Westaway clan. Ada Warren is a menacing presence in the household and her enigmatic revelations are disquieting and vaguely threatening. Out of the three “uncles” Harding is the best developed while Ezra and Abel are somewhat indistinguishable from one another. This latest release from Ruth Ware features a delightfully moody setting and a clever plot that will keep readers guessing the truth about the Westaway family. Fans of the genre are going to absolutely love this twist-filled tale of murder and intrigue that is rife with family secrets.

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Filed under Contemporary, Gallery/Scout Press, Mystery, Rated B+, Review, Ruth Ware, Suspense, The Death of Mrs Westaway

Review: The Visitors by Catherine Burns

Title: The Visitors by Catherine Burns
Publisher: Gallery/Scout Press
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery
Length: 304 pages
Book Rating: C

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


With the smart suspense of Emma Donoghue’s Room and the atmospheric claustrophobia of Grey Gardens, Catherine Burns’s debut novel explores the complex truths we are able to keep hidden from ourselves and the twisted realities that can lurk beneath even the most serene of surfaces.

Marion Zetland lives with her domineering older brother John in a crumbling mansion on the edge of a northern seaside resort. A timid spinster in her fifties who still sleeps with teddy bears, Marion does her best to live by John’s rules, even if it means turning a blind eye to the noises she hears coming from behind the cellar door…and turning a blind eye to the women’s laundry in the hamper that isn’t hers. For years, she’s buried the signs of John’s devastating secret into the deep recesses of her mind—until the day John is crippled by a heart attack, and Marion becomes the only one whose shoulders are fit to bear his secret. Forced to go down to the cellar and face what her brother has kept hidden, Marion discovers more about herself than she ever thought possible. As the truth is slowly unraveled, we finally begin to understand: maybe John isn’t the only one with a dark side….


The Visitors by Catherine Burns is a rather dark character study featuring a middle aged woman who lives in the family home with her brother who harbors a chilling secret.

Marion Zetland is in her mid fifties and she has never moved out of her family home. Now residing with her brother, John, she escapes her somewhat dreary existence with her elaborate daydreams about people she meets, watching TV and binge eating. Marion also lives in fear of disappointing John who has a quick temper and a dark secret. After John falls ill, Marion has no choice but to face what her brother has been doing all these years in their cellar.

Life in the Zetland household has always been dysfunctional. The youngest of the siblings, Marion was never anywhere close to being John’s intellectual equal and she struggled to pass any of her classes. Plagued with social awkwardness, she endured painful bullying from her classmates but Marion could always count on John to make her feel better about herself. Their parents had extremely high expectations for John’s future, but Marion always fell short of the mark and as a result, she does not feel worthy of anyone’s love or respect. Her loyalty to John is absolute and she will do anything to make him happy.  Even if that means turning a blind eye to his activities and never questioning what he is doing in their cellar.

The pacing of the story is quite slow since the main focus is the minutiae of  Marion’s day to day life.  These chapters are boring and repetitive since she does little beyond watching the TV while soothing herself by overeating.  She has a rich fantasy life in which she  lapses into elaborate daydreams about her imaginary relationships with people from her real life.  There are also long passages that flashback to her childhood and while these chapters offer insight into what shaped her into the woman she is today, they are overly detailed and excessively long.  Marion is occasionally worried about the strange noises emanating from the cellar but she easily pushes her concerns aside.

The Visitors has an unusual premise but readers might be a little frustrated due to the lack of suspense surrounding John’s cellar activities and a rambling storyline. It is not very difficult to deduce who the visitors are or what John is doing with them. Marion is initially a sympathetic character but it is easy to become impatient with her complacency. With a few not completely unexpected revelations, Catherine Burns brings the novel to a twist-filled conclusion.

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Filed under Catherine Burns, Contemporary, Gallery/Scout Press, Mystery, Rated C, Review, Suspense, The Visitors

Review: Unraveling Oliver by Liz Nugent

Title: Unraveling Oliver by Liz Nugent
Publisher: Gallery/Scout Press
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, Suspense
Length: 272 pages
Book Rating: B

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


In this “compelling, clever, and dark” (Heat magazine) thriller, a man’s shocking act of savagery stuns a local community—and the revelations that follow will keep you gripped until the very last page. This work of psychological suspense, a #1 bestseller in Ireland, is perfect for fans of Patricia Highsmith and Ruth Ware.

“I expected more of a reaction the first time I hit her.”

So begins Liz Nugent’s astonishing debut novel—a chilling, elegantly crafted, and psychologically astute exploration of the nature of evil.

Oliver Ryan, handsome, charismatic, and successful, has long been married to his devoted wife, Alice. Together they write and illustrate award-winning children’s books; their life together one of enviable privilege and ease—until, one evening after a delightful dinner, Oliver delivers a blow to Alice that renders her unconscious, and subsequently beats her into a coma.

In the aftermath of such an unthinkable event, as Alice hovers between life and death, the couple’s friends, neighbors, and acquaintances try to understand what could have driven Oliver to commit such a horrific act. As his story unfolds, layers are peeled away to reveal a life of shame, envy, deception, and masterful manipulation.

With its alternating points of view and deft prose, Unraveling Oliver is “a page-turning, one-sitting read from a brand new master of psychological suspense” (Sunday Independent) that details how an ordinary man can transform into a sociopath.


In Unraveling Oliver by Liz Nugent, Oliver Ryan’s inexplicable act of violence against his wife of more than twenty years is explored through the eyes of their acquaintances and Oliver.

Oliver Ryan is a well-liked author of children’s books that his wife Alice illustrates. She is devoted to her husband, quiet and unassuming whereas he revels in the attention he receives due to his successful career. Oliver is a bit of a  mystery even to his closest friends and acquaintances but with each subsequent chapter, a chilling portrait begins to emerge.

Initially, Oliver comes across as a very sympathetic character due to his heartrending past.  His relationship with his father is quite complex and continues to haunt him well into adulthood. Oliver suffers a few tragic losses that leave him with emotional scars that he never quite recovers from.  On the surface, his life is picture perfect.  His children’s books have become a franchise that extends well beyond the publishing world. Alice is devoted to him and although her illustrations are a huge part of his success, she would never dream of encroaching on his limelight. However, underneath Oliver’s charming, charismatic facade, He is devious, sly and extremely self-centered as he ruthlessly manipulates people and events to suit him.

Written from several different points of view,  Unraveling Oliver is a captivating character study that raises some very intriguing questions. Oliver is certainly quite intriguing but there is much more to his character than originally meets the eye.  Liz Nugent carefully conceals the motive for Oliver’s attack on Alice until the novel’s twist-filled, somewhat shocking conclusion. An excellent debut that mystery lovers are going to enjoy.

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Filed under Contemporary, Gallery/Scout Press, Liz Nugent, Mystery, Rated B, Review, Suspense, Unraveling Oliver