Good as Dead - Susan Walter
Lake Union Publishing
Pyschological Thriller Fans rating - 83%
I picked this one up for no other reason than it was one of my Amazon Prime September First Reads options – and I was not disappointed.
First Reads are usually Amazon imprints that it pushes out for free to subscribers to bolster rankings and in the past I’ve found they can be quite hit or miss.
I’m glad to say this one was a definite hit.
It was an odd one to categorise as it ultimately became a psychological thriller – but for three quarters of the book or so it was more of a crime / mystery / suspense read.
The premise was relatively straightforward with a compelling hook.
Holly Kendrick’s husband is killed in a car accident which she witnesses – but before she speaks to the police, she’s approached by the lawyer of the man who owns the other car involved in the fatality.
He offers to pay her off to keep her silence – and that includes a $2m luxury house in LA and all the money she needs to live a lifestyle of someone who could afford a house like that.
The question then becomes – who was driving the other car, why are they so desperate to avoid the police finding the truth and will Holly and her teenage daughter, Savannah be found out.
The story at first is a little complicated as it is told throughout by a multitude of voices speaking in the first person past, with each chapter starting with their point of view three months previously and the next chapter told in the present.
It’s an interesting narrative device which takes some getting used to, but when you’ve grasped what’s going on, it’s a highly effective (and unusual) way of switching between two timelines.
The complicating factor in Holly and Savannah’s new luxury lives are the neighbours across the street who are fascinated by the new people on the block and can’t help sticking their noses in.
As you’d expect from a decent thriller, it’s full of lies, secrets and deception that are skilfully crafted into a cohesive novel by Susan Walter, using her experience of life in the film industry in LA.
It does ultimately morph into a psychological thriller when Holy and Savannah’s lives come under threat from one of the other characters – but this comes so late on I struggle to describe it as a pure psych thriller.
I was also left a little uncertain about the antagonist’s motive – but it wasn’t a dealbreaker and didn’t spoil my enjoyment of the book.
Overall, this was a really good read from a debut novelist who brought all her experience of filmmaking and living in Hollywood onto the pages of a book that has quite rightly won some high praise.
I gave it an 83% Psychological Thriller Fans rating.
It all starts with a promise from a stranger: We’ll take care of everything.
Holly Kendrick’s husband is dead. Holly saw it all. In one violent moment, a hit-and-run accident turns Holly’s life upside down. Then a fixer for the high-powered guilty party approaches Holly with an offer she is in no position to refuse. Holly and her daughter, Savannah, will want for nothing, beginning with a luxury dream house—all for the price of their silence. But when their sudden appearance in privileged Calabasas, California, piques the curiosity of neighbors, the price becomes greater than they imagined. Because Holly and Savannah aren’t the only ones in the neighborhood with something to hide.
Told from alternating points of view, Good as Dead draws together an unlikely group of people bound to one another by a crime, a cover-up, and compounding deceptions. As carefully constructed lives begin to crumble, how far will everyone be willing to go to bury the truth and protect the people they love?
AMAZON CA (paperback)
AMAZON AUS (paperback)
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AJ Wills is the bestselling author of multiple psychological thrillers. He was a journalist for more than twenty years and has been writing full-time since March 2021. He's married to fellow thriller writer, AJ McDine.