Wednesday, June 15, 2022

Book Review: The House Sitter

By Sara Steven

‘You’re just the girl I’ve been looking for,’ Iris told me, her blue eyes sparkling, when she offered me the job as her live-in helper. Little did she know, I thought the exact same about her. And she was wrong to trust me...

As I clean Iris’s large, old house in Pacific Heights, my boyfriend Seth works outside, tending to the lawn and fixing the broken gate. I can’t help but notice Iris’s steely eyes watching our every move. Does she know why we’re really here?

Most days we live in perfect harmony, but today Iris is confused. She thinks we moved in uninvited. I pass her a tablet from the medicine cabinet, knowing she’ll soon calm down and remember how lucky she is to have found us.

Later that night, the police arrive to find Iris’s perfect house turned upside down, the telephone lying on the floor, its cord severed. They walk through each room, calling out, but the house remains totally silent.

You will think you know what happened that night, but when the police discover something unexpected hidden amongst the wreckage in Iris’s bedroom, you’ll find you don’t know a thing. (Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads.)

I read The House Sitter within twenty-four hours, so to say it was riveting and had me hooked would be a total understatement! The story starts out innocently enough: an elderly woman who is in need of assistance, with a down-on-their-luck couple who needs someone to take a chance on them. But as the synopsis indicates, all preconceived notions of what happened that fateful night, the one where Iris’s home has been turned upside down and no one is there to account for anything, will completely disappear because the reader will have no clue as to what is happening. There will be suspicions, but in the end, prepare to have your mind blown!

About three-quarters of the way through is when I figured it all out. So much so, that I announced the discovery out loud, to no one in particular. Just a declarative discovery for myself, really. But it was enough of one to really affect me and inwardly congratulate the author on her creative mystery writing skills! I felt sure the culprit was one character, yet that hadn’t panned out, only to feel steadfast against someone else, but I was going down a dead end, which only made me want to continue on the journey to figure out what had really happened and more importantly, who Iris, Seth and Lydia are.

Another important character is Maureen, a rookie cop who felt compelled into that line of work due to her own tragic past. I really loved her unique background; a former pianist turned police officer makes for a very interesting story. She’s the one that propels The House Sitter forward, despite the many obstacles she faces along the way while looking for the ultimate truth. In finding it, she feels she can in some ways right the wrongs of her own experiences, which added a nice intricate touch to everything. 

In the end, I felt the story was justified and satisfying. The perfect ending for the perfect mystery thriller. I pictured The House Sitter up on the small screen someday, the kind of thriller you watch while burrowed under a favorite comforter or throw blanket. You never know what the future holds. But I can say with 100% certainty that it definitely deserves a five-star review!

Thanks to Bookouture for the book in exchange for an honest review.

Forensic psychologist by day, novelist by night, Ellery Kane has been writing--professionally and creatively--for as long as she can remember. Just like many of her main characters, Ellery loves to ask why, which is the reason she became a psychologist in the first place. Real life really is stranger than fiction, and Ellery's writing is often inspired by her day job. Evaluating violent criminals and treating trauma victims, she has gained a unique perspective on the past and its indelible influence on the individual. And she's heard her fair share of real life thrillers.

Ellery lives in the San Francisco Bay Area of California, a picturesque setting that provides the backdrop for many of her novels. If you don't find Ellery interviewing murderers behind prison walls or pecking away at her latest novel, she is probably at the gym landing a solid jab-cross to a punching bag; riding bicycles with her special someone; or enjoying a movie the old-fashioned way--at the theater with popcorn and Milk Duds.

Ellery was previously selected as one of ten semifinalists in the MasterClass James Patterson Co-Author Competition, and she recently signed a three book deal with Bookouture for her new Rockwell and Decker mystery thriller series. The first book is scheduled for release in 2020.

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