Review of The House in the Woods by Zoë Miller and Dead Sound by Anise Eden
Thriller: The House in the Woods by Zoë Miller Hachette Ireland, 416 pages, hardcover €19.60; e-book £4.99
Evie Lawrence is an elderly Irish actress who found fame and considerable fortune on the London stage and in a hugely popular British soap opera. It caused a sensation when she abruptly abandoned her career and returned to live in isolation in Heronbrook, her remote but beautiful Wicklow home.
Coaxed by an Irish TV company to take the part of Ma Donnelly, the tough and resourceful boss in a Dublin gangland drama, she achieved fame all over again until, at her own request, she was written out of the series and her character killed off in a hit-and-run.
So is it just a coincidence when, on a country lane near Heronbrook, Evie is knocked down and badly injured by a motorcycle that doesn’t stop? Estranged from her family for most of her adult life for reasons that become shockingly clear as her recovery progresses, she reluctantly accepts her grand-niece Amber’s offer to move into Heronbrook and look after her as she recuperates.
Amber, a high-flying young businesswoman, is at a loose end having had, simultaneously, a devastating professional setback and a rancorous break-up with her abusive boyfriend.
The two women, related yet strangers, begin to probe into their very different pasts. Amber is fascinated by the mystery surrounding Evie’s estrangement from her sister Pippa, Amber’s grandmother, while Evie is trying to work out why Amber’s life has imploded so spectacularly.
When strange and unsettling things begin to happen around their rural idyll, Amber begins to worry that Heronbrook’s remoteness might be very dangerous and that what is happening to her grand-aunt Evie may have possibly fatal links to past family events.
Packed with memorable and superbly drawn characters, this engaging mystery copperfastens Dubliner Zoë Miller’s mastery of the art of sinuous plotting.
Thriller: Dead Sound by Anise Eden
Tangled Tree Publishing, 430 pages, hardcover €19; e-book £1.99
Psychotherapist Neve Keane knew that returning to her job at Washington Central Hospital after being stabbed in the abdomen by a deranged patient would be difficult, but she never expected to be surrounded by a large group of chanting inmates greeting her as a messenger from the gods and begging her to help stop the apocalypse.
This catapults her and Cork-born Dr Cornelius O’Brien, who share cult leader Amos as a patient, into a conspiracy that threatens the life of the US president.
While Dead Sound ticks a number of distinct literary genre boxes, from macho thriller to paranormal fiction to chick-lit romance, it is a little slow to gather momentum following an arresting opening.