Today I am sharing short reviews for two psychological thrillers – The Helpdesk by Shane Dunphy (January 26th, Hachette Ireland) and The Only Suspect by Louise Candlish (February 2nd, Simon & Schuster)
[ About The Helpdesk ]
SHE TOOK CONTROL OF HIS COMPUTER. NOW HE’S LOST CONTROL OF HIS LIFE . . .
Someone is always watching
James Fitzpatrick is a high-profile lawyer at a successful City firm. He’s married to Bella. She’s beautiful and clever, a teacher at a prestigious private school.
They have the perfect lives.
But then, one night, James loses a file for a multi-million pound deal he’s working on and in desperation contacts the company’s IT helpdesk. A woman named Charlotte answers his call, setting in motion a series of events set to shatter James’ and Bella’s lives.
In the weeks after, James is accused of more mistakes at work, ones he doesn’t remember making and can’t explain. Meanwhile Bella finds herself the target of vicious rumours at school – and no one seems willing to believe her side of the story.
Everything started with that one phone call.
Who is the woman at the other side of the computer screen? And why do Bella and James suddenly find their privileged existence in peril?
[ My Review ]
The Helpdesk by Shane Dunphy is a tale of deception and lies. James and Bella are a married couple with a relationship that is struggling. James has always had ambition to make it in The City as a successful lawyer for a top firm. He has worked hard to get to where he is but his need for recognition and wealth has blinded him to his own personal life.
Bella is a teacher at a private school but it is a position that Bella took due to an earlier incident in her career that resulted in a change of direction. As their marriage slowly dissolves, both James and Bella fall victim to an unexpected event that throws their lives, both personally and professionally into disarray.
It all started when James ran into a technical issue at work. In a panic he rang an outsourced helpdesk and spoke with Charlotte. Charlotte responded with great patience and understanding. She listened to James and he appreciated her help. But this phone call was the catalyst that resulted in James and Bella becoming embroiled in something unpredictable and very disconcerting.
The Helpdesk is a book that I had very mixed feelings about. In reading the premise my expectations were of a totally different read and I was a little disappointed in how the tale unravelled. It is described as gripping which is definitely what it could have been, but something just fell flat. There were a few too many far fetched scenarios that just didn’t ring true. I didn’t like any of the characters but this is never an issue for me as I don’t have to like a character when reading a book. Shane Dunphy has them well depicted with quite despicable behaviour presented by all three.
The Helpdesk revolves around a complex plot, one in which greed and power take centre stage but unfortunately, while the writing style is sound, the premise was just not realistic enough for me.
[ Bio ]
Shane Dunphy (who also writes as S.A. Dunphy) is the author of the David Dunnigan series, which begins with After She Vanished, and the Boyle and Keneally series, which begins with Bring Her Home. He has also written several non-fiction books.
Twitter ~ @dunphyshane1
[ About The Only Suspect ]
Wrong time. Wrong place. Wrong man.
Alex lives a comfortable life with his wife Beth in the leafy suburb of Silver Vale. Fine, so he’s not the most sociable guy on the street, he prefers to keep himself to himself, but he’s a good husband and an easy-going neighbour.
That’s until Beth announces the creation of a nature trail on a local site that’s been disused for decades and suddenly Alex is a changed man. Now he’s always watching. Questioning. Struggling to hide his dread . . .
As the landscapers get to work, a secret threatens to surface from years ago, back in Alex’s twenties when he got entangled with a seductive young woman called Marina, who threw both their lives into turmoil.
And who sparked a police hunt for a murder suspect that was never quite what it seemed.
It still isn’t.
[ My Review ]
The Only Suspect by Louise Candlish is described as a ‘cautionary tale of obsession, love, jealousy and deception‘. Alex and Beth are happily married in a London suburb. With no children, Beth involves herself in her local community to distract her. One such activity is the proposed development of a walking trail on a disused piece of track behind the estate where they live. To date it has been a place to avoid, a place that attracts a more unsavoury character but now the community are looking to take back the track and establish a nature spot. Beth is excited. Alex is fearful. But why?
Beth has always known and accepted that there is a part of Alex that he chooses not to share. She is an open book but understands that others are different. Alex never actively mingles with the neighbours, he steers clear of social media and, although not a loner, he does keep to himself. To date this has never been an issue. As the saying goes, opposites attract. But Alex is stressed. Something is putting him on edge and, as the chapters progress, we get insights into Alex’s early years and the secrets he has kept buried, hidden from Beth and others.
The Only Suspect is a book that just stopped short of being a great read. There were some surprising reveals but there were also some that were just a little too outlandish for me. Alex raised my heckles from the get go whereas Beth was just too accepting, blinded by what I can only assume was love. When her friend Zara landed into the picture I did have a moment of complete confusion. I just couldn’t grasp her role in the story and, aside from that, she was so very annoying.
The Only Suspect has a few decent twists and a plot with great potential but, unfortunately, like The Helpdesk, it just fell short of the mark. Louise Candlish has written a good novel but I do think it could have been a great novel with a few minor tweaks and as mentioned above, the removal of Zara.
[ Bio ]
Louise Candlish is the internationally bestselling author of fifteen novels, including The Other Passenger, The Heights, and Our House, which won the Crime & Thriller Book of the Year at the 2019 British Book Awards. It is now a major four-part TV drama starring Martin Compston, Tuppence Middleton, and Rupert Penry-Jones, available to stream on CBC Gem. Louise lives in London with her husband and daughter.
Twitter ~ @Louise_Candlish